Playbook for C-Store Customer Growth

NACS/CCRRC offers roadmap on how to win loyalty, attract new business, compete against other channels

Published in CSP Daily News

ATLANTA -- The NACS/Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (NACS/CCRRC) has released a new guidebook, " Playbook for Success: A Three-Step Guide to Growing C-Store Business," that aims to provide a roadmap to help convenience retailers better meet shopper needs and compete against other channels.

This latest research examines the on-the-go lifestyle of today's consumers, and how practical and emotional needs drive their purchase decisions. On one end of this spectrum is the need to control the day--by schedule, budget and productivity. On other end is the need to break from the daily routine with a reward.

The "Playbook for Success" offers three steps to addressing this range of needs. They include:

Step 1: Do the basics. A business shows measurable improvement when all three basic consumer needs are met: safety, cleanliness and hospitality. The research found that convenience stores were the only retail channel that did not meet customers' core needs for cleanliness and safety. Just correcting these deficiencies will make the channel a potential option for that many more consumers.

Step 2: Defend your turf. C-stores are competing not only against the next gas station but also other channels such as drug and dollar. The convenience channel has an opportunity to go beyond its grab-and-go strengths to also providing great customer service. The goal: Get core customers to think of your store as "my place," friendly and familiar, and win their loyalty through such tools as a consistent and friendly customer greeting and emphasizing your store's price and time advantages.

Step 3: Attract new business. Once the first two steps are complete, the NACS/CCRRC report has identified four "growth platforms" that can help a c-store retailer attracting new business. Each of these platforms is rooted in a particular shopping occasion. These platforms are:

  • Fresh value fast. More shoppers are looking to include healthy foods and beverages, and take care of themselves without sacrificing quality.
  • Family time. These family-focused customers are looking for a shopping destination that provides "emotional rewards." The study explains how c-stores can compete with ice-cream and yogurt shops with affordable treats that meet these customers' needs.
  • My time. This customer is seeking a shopping environment that is easy to browse at leisure and enables them to check out quickly. The report offers store design and service suggestions to meet this shopper's needs.
  • Female-friendly. Women want a place that is comfortable and safe, as well as one that provides an opportunity for a break. The report offers ideas on how to go head to head with coffee shops and drug stores for women's time.

Operators should focus on those platforms that are most relevant to their stores and customer base, implement changes to leverage the occasion types, and then test and track the results.

The NACS/CCRRC is composed of 17 c-store executives that oversee research initiatives conducted by independent third parties, and it is dedicated to understanding and developing practical responses to strategic challenges experienced by the convenience retail industry. The Coca-Cola Co. sponsors NACS/CCRRC as part of its commitment to help customers drive their business forward and to expand knowledge in the convenience retail community.