What do consumers look for in convenience-store foodservice? According to feedback in a recent Technomic study, the answer is more than a matter of convenience.

"Due to location and speed of service, c-stores are always going to be a dining option," says Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic. "Recently, however, we've seen a concerted effort to improve the quality of food and service provided at these locations. If c-stores can continue enhancing these areas, they can look to drive traffic from restaurants."

Technomic surveyed an online panel of more than 4,000 convenience store shoppers to gain consumers' insights and help operators and suppliers better understand factors driving convenience-store foodservice buying behavior.

The survey, presented in Technomic's Consumer Brand Metrics (CBM): Convenience Store Shopper Insights Report, includes exclusive operator brand data and consumer assessments of their most recent prepared-foods purchase at one of 21 leading convenience-store chains. Highlights from the report include:

  • 7-Eleven leads all chains measured for foodservice patronage. Two-fifths (39 percent) of c-store foodservice users have purchased a foodservice item from 7-Eleven in the past two months.
  • Wawa's food and beverage earns highest ratings. Wawa's program received the highest composite scores across 11 food and beverage attributes, such as food quality, foodservice variety and the craveability of its menu items. Quik Trip, Sheetz, Stripes, and Kwik Trip also earned high marks from consumers for these attributes.
  • Food quality and taste are just as important as convenience. Nine out of 10 c-store foodservice users say the quality and taste of the food are among the important factors when deciding which convenience store to visit.  A comparable number assigned similar rankings to pleasant, friendly service and a convenient location.
  • Convenience stores are driving traffic from restaurants, especially QSRs. A third of consumers (34 percent) say they would have visited a restaurant if they had not purchased prepared foods from a c-store on their most recent visit; 26 percent say they would have visited a fast-food restaurant.

The Consumer Brand Metrics (CBM): Convenience Store Shopper Insights Report measures foodservice experiences at leading convenience-store chains on roughly 50 attributes in the following categories: Food and Beverage, Value, Service and Hospitality, Unit Appearance and Ambiance, and Convenience. The report's insights allow companies to better assess their brand position regarding foodservice and store attributes, visit satisfaction, customer loyalty and brand perception.