Americans’ need for convenience isn’t slowing down, but it is getting healthier. GasBuddy, a crowdsourcing platform for fuel prices and c-store data in the US, Canada and Australia, released a new report on drink shopping habits.
More than 165 million Americans shop at c-stores every day, netting $242bn of in-store sales in 2018. GasBuddy surveyed over 1,000 people in July, and 51% reported that they purchase a beverage at a gas station c-store at least once a week, with 20% doing so daily.
When asked if they have “moved more towards healthier options like sparkling water, drinks with vitamins and electrolytes, over traditional soft drinks compared to five years ago,” 44% of respondents agreed with the statement.
People ages 18-29 said they prefer c-stores over drug stores and grocery stores, and are 56% more inclined to get beverages at the former. The same was true for 53% of the 30-44 age group.
The younger demographic was also revealed to be the least trustworthy of big brands, as 25% of 18-29 year olds said they are ‘brand loyal’ compared with 39% of baby boomers.
This group is the most easily influenced by coupons and sales, 85% saying they influence their decision to purchase; and 67% of all consumers saying they will try new items based on discounts or interesting packaging.
Healthy efficiency is key
Carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, water, sports drinks, juices and teas are lumped together as packaged beverages, and they come in third for largest in-store convenience category with 15.3% of sales.
“Water is the number one beverage product purchased at a gas station c-store by 18-29 year-olds, while carbonated soft drinks topped the list for the 30-44 and 45-60 age group,” GasBuddy said.
The top five types of packaged beverages purchased at a gas station, according to GasBuddy, are carbonated soft drinks, water, coffee, energy drinks and sports drinks.
Packaged beverages are also the most popular ‘impulse buys’ in c-stores, with 65% of survey participants saying their drink purchases are typically unplanned before visiting the store.
Frank Beard, convenience retail analyst at GasBuddy, said “Today's consumers—especially millennials—are buying more food on-the-go, including snacks, drinks, and prepared meals.”
“Efficiency is paramount in today's society, and convenience stores are providing the desired ease and choice of options for an evolving customer. C-stores are also responding to a growing desire for healthier options."