Designing for Women

Published in CSP Daily News

Attracting female customers requires consistency, commitment

ATLANTA -- At a time when drug stores have positioned themselves as convenience stores for women, convenience retailers are trying to ratchet up their game to convince their current female customers to stay and to attract more women inside the c-store.

It's not an easy proposition, however, as retailers attending Capturing the Female Consumer, a discussion forum held by CSP Information Group early this week in Atlanta, learned. More than a dozen retailers and suppliers participated in the meeting, which was sponsored by Kellogg, Kraft, US Beverage, McLane [image-nocss] Grocery Distribution and R.J. Reynolds.

Creating a welcoming shopping environment is perhaps one of the biggest challenges, with many older and contemporary c-stores handicapped by poor lighting, cluttered windows and confusing store layouts. Martin Roberts, president of GRID2 International, a New York City-based design firm that has worked with Sheetz, Giant Food and Convenience Food Mart, added poor selection, high prices, lack of cleanliness, poor security and too much focus on prepackaged, processed foods as other factors that have played against the channel.

Roberts urged retailers at the forum to take a second look at their interior design as a first step. Some c-stores simply look too busy, with several different types of signage and overly masculine NASCAR coloring turning the facility into the equivalent of an orchestra warming up. You need someone conducting the orchestra, Martin argued. He also offered these cues:

Implement better store planning. Improve store lighting, utilizing different levels of light sources. Unclutter the store. Offer more fresh products. Improve interior traffic flow. Use more branding opportunities within the store.

One c-store located near a train station in France that GRID2 redesigned with softer aisle lines, more natural colors, brighter lighting and a renewed emphasis on featuring fresh foods enjoyed a 30% boost in sales. A complete raze and rebuild is not required to enjoy similar results, Martin noted. Simply changing floor or surface materials to more natural colors, boosting cleanliness levels and/or adding lighting can make a formerly unappealing, intimidating site into a place where female customers want to stop and shop.