Survey Finds Gas Station C-Stores A Top Spot To Quench Thirst

Posted On: 8/13/2019

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BOSTON -- Packaged beverages are the third largest in-store category at convenience stores with 15.3% share of sales, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores' April 2019 data. And according to GasBuddy's 2019 C-Store Beverage Study, 51% surveyed said they purchase a beverage at a gas station c-store at least once a week, 20% of which do so daily.

Convenience stores are the destination of choice for 165 million U.S. customers each day, resulting to $242 billion of in-store sales in 2018, according to NAC data. The GasBuddy study confirmed that packaged beverages -- which includes carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, water, sports drinks, juices and teas -- are impulse buys: 65% said their beverage purchases are typically unplanned before getting to the store.

Additionally, brand loyalty is at an all-time low with 67% of consumers saying they try new items based on discounts or interesting packaging.

"Today's consumers -- especially millennials -- are buying more food on-the-go, including snacks, drinks, and prepared meals," said Frank Beard, convenience retail analyst at GasBuddy. "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."

The survey also revealed how greatly product preferences vary between generations. Water is the No. 1 beverage product purchased at a gas station c-store by 18-29 year-olds, while carbonated soft drinks topped the list for the 30-to-44 and 45-to-60 age group.

Other highlights from the study:

>> Convenience wins over drug-and-grocery stores. An astounding 56% in the 18-to-29-year-olds age group said they are more inclined to get their beverages at a convenience store versus a drug-or-grocery store, followed by the 30-to-44 age group at 53%.

>> Consumer disloyalty on the rise, especially with younger consumers. In the 45-to-60 age group, 39% said they are brand loyal when it comes to packaged beverages. At the 30-to-44 age range, that number drops 8%, and another 6% at the 18-to-29 group.

>> Lovers of deals. 78% said a coupon or discount would influence their decision to purchase. The 18-to-29 age group is most easily influenced (85%).

>> Trending healthy. 44% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement that they have moved more towards healthier options like sparkling water, drinks with vitamins and electrolytes, over traditional soft drinks compared to five years ago.

>> The top five types of packaged beverages purchased at a gas station c-store are carbonated soft drinks, water, coffee, energy drinks and sports drinks.

Results are based on 1,046 responses from a GasBuddy survey issued in early July.

Boston, MA-based GasBuddy's mission is to help consumers avoid paying full price for fuel. As the leading source for crowdsourced, real-time fuel prices at more than 150,000 gas station convenience stores in the U.S., Canada and Australia, millions of drivers use the GasBuddy app and website every day to find gas station convenience stores based on fuel prices, location and ratings/reviews.