THE POWER OF THIRD PLACE
December 16, 2021
As they move through their daily lives, shoppers usually travel within a triangle, dividing their time between home, work and a third place – such as a convenience store. Despite the mountain of changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, c-stores cemented their hold on the third location for many shoppers with 68% of frequent customers indicating that they visited a store as often or more than pre-pandemic.
Convenience Store Customers and Sustainability: The Journey to Creating Brand Ambassadors, the newest study from the NACS/Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council, identified the very strong feelings shoppers have about their local convenience stores. Frequent c-store customers shop three or more times a week to purchase either a necessity or an impulse item. As c-store operators continue to navigate new variants of COVID-19, it’s important to understand what is motivating these frequent shoppers.
While the study was geared toward issues concerning sustainability, the pandemic gave participants a new lens with which to view issues, raising concerns focused on personal safety. The report indicates the positive impact retailers will see when they implement cleanliness and sustainability efforts aimed at helping consumers feel more comfortable while shopping. Page four outlines that frequent c-store shoppers are likely to have their convenience store choice influenced by the implementation of these measures.
For c-stores looking for ideas on how to quickly implement initiatives that will have a substantial impact, Convenience Store Customers and Sustainability outlines several quick wins. From hand sanitizing stations, requiring masks and social distancing to more involved efforts such as donating money to local charities, c-stores can take advantage of these study-approved options.
The study found that shoppers see local retailers, including convenience stores, as an important community partner on a wide range of issues from COVID-19 precautions to environmental sustainability. When these efforts are implemented with care, c-store operators can strengthen customer loyalty and maintain shopping frequency.
The entire study, including information on how to approach customer safety and sustainability efforts for c-store operators, can be downloaded for free: