You may have noticed something different about C-stores, gas station mini marts, and even the kiosks at airports and the train stations?
Apparently the fresh food movement has made its way into the most unlikely places.
Until recently there were two things you could count on when you arrived at a convenience store. They would be open when you needed them, and there would be no chance of getting anything healthy.
A 32-ounce soda, a Slim Jim, a bag of chips? No problem.
Fresh fruit or a truly healthy snack? Not a chance.
But that is not the case anymore as a trip to any Wawa or airport concession stand will prove.
And it makes sense. According to a survey conducted in 2012 by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 87% of American consumers eat more whole grain, fresh fruit and vegetables now than they did five years earlier. So if convenience stores don’t meet those needs, consumers will find places that do.
This research from the NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) is good news for Marketers.
According to Jeff Leonard, the vice president of strategic industry Initiatives at NACS, “Millennials and women” in particular will search harder for fresh products than other demographics.
Chains like Wawa and 7-Eleven are on their way to figuring out the art of integrating fresh food products into their mix, which is a relatively new idea for stores that historically counted on products with a very long shelf life.
Now Wawa has a section on their website called Fresh Food where they talk about things like pre-sliced apples, and fresh sandwiches and salads.
They are not only satisfying their consumers needs for convenience, but they are giving them a way to feel good about the experience of shopping there, which may be even more important than what they ultimately wind up purchasing,
The offering is even more compelling as our collective understanding of how eating processed foods negatively impacts our bodies over long periods of time, grows to reach the American masses.
Consumers are actively choosing fresh food over fast food despite higher price points according to this study by Professor Roldolfo Nayga from the University of Arkansas. Today’s consumer believes, the simpler the ingredients the safer the choice.
The opportunity for the stores is expanding its audience and building a reputation for fresh convenience, which is very high on the list of consumer desires. The bigger opportunity may be for brands to expand where consumer’s can find their offering .
Better-for-you brands offering things like healthy breakfast options, veggie centric snacks and the much debated gluten-free’s may hit the jackpot in what used to be a very unlikely channel.
Finding fresh in every day convenience stores is a huge turning point in the food industry.
Better food options are becoming more available and more affordable. While processed and junk foods still exist, it’s comforting to know that fresh the walls are coming down between consumers and fresh.