Satisfying Convenience Store Shoppers’ Sweet Cravings

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Research Overview

Despite the proliferation of better-for-you snack options available today, consumers still love their sweet snacks, especially at convenience stores.

Sweet cravings can be satisfied across multiple categories in a C-store, including Packaged Bakery, Fresh Bakery, Candy, Cookie and Treat Bars. Sweet products are lucrative for convenience retailers that offer the right mix of products. General Mills Convenience & Foodservice recently conducted a Sweet Snacking Segmentation Survey among C-store consumers to better understand how shoppers are buying sweet snacks throughout the day and the needs that each sweet snack meets.

“While consumers tend to place more focus on health in this day and age, sweet snacking is not slowing down when it comes to convenience stores,” said Kelly Kees, consumer insights researcher at General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. “C-store shoppers still want to indulge and are seeking out sweet treats that deliver on great taste and also have some elements of nutrition, like nut butters, fruit flavors or real foods.”

Sample/Research Method

Approximately 3,000 convenience store food and beverage shoppers, ages 18-54, participated in a nationwide online survey conducted by General Mills during March 2016.

Key Findings

  • More than two-thirds of C-Store sweet snacks are purchased on impulse and the majority of sweets satisfy afternoon and evening cravings.
    • 65 percent of C-store food and beverage purchases are unplanned and purchased on impulse once seen in the store.
    • 48 percent of shoppers eat C-store sweet snacks in the afternoon and 14 percent of shoppers eat sweets to satisfy evening or late-night cravings.
  • C-store shoppers segment Sweet Snacks into three occasion groups (ranked in order of unit share)
    • Afternoon Indulgence
    • Sweet Start Mornings
    • Anytime Munching
  • Within these groups, Sweet Snacks satisfy six specific consumer needs:
    • Afternoon Indulgence is the largest group, representing 70 percent unit share of scan-able sweet snacks. Afternoon/evening products meet three specific customer needs:
      • Crunchy Chocolatey Nibbling - Mini candies and cookies with a little indulgence
      • PM Chocolate Indulgence - Indulgent candy and packaged bakery that usually includes rich flavors like chocolate and caramel
      • Fruity Candy Craving - Bite-size non-chocolate candy eaten while doing other things
    • Sweet Start Mornings is the second largest group, representing 18 percent unit share of Sweet Snacks. AM-focused products meet two specific customer needs:
      • AM Bakery-fresh and Wholesome – Baked goods with homemade cues and at least some nutritional value (e.g., fruit pieces, whole grains, fiber)
      • AM Bakery Indulgence - Bakery-fresh and taste-first sweets that are eaten for enjoyment and on-the-go
    • Anytime Munching is the smallest group within the Sweet Snacks category, representing 13 percent unit share of Sweet Snacks. Snacks within this group can be eaten throughout the day and tend to be more wholesome sweet options. These snacks are not daypart-specific and meet consumer needs for homemade and baked treats with at least some nutrition.