Gen Z: All About the Convenience Store

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    By NCS Marketing

    “I’m not even supposed to be here today!”  said Dante Hicks when complaining about his shift at a convenience store in Kevin Smith’s indie '90s hit Clerks. From Clerks to the Simpsons to SubUrbia to Heathers, the convenience store has long been the destination of choice in Gen X and older Millennial pop culture. 

    But it might surprise you to learn just how much Gen Z loves convenience stores. Compared to other generations, Gen Zers are more likely to visit the convenience store: 76% visit one or more times a week, compared to just 73% of Millennials and 65% of Gen Xers, according to an October 2022 NCS consumer sentiment survey. 

    What’s driving this love? 7-Eleven CMO and EVP Marissa Jarratt told NCS CEO Alan Miles at Advertising Week New York that part of 7-Eleven’s appeal to Gen Z is nostalgia.

    “We want to ensure that they’re aware of our deep history and heritage — but also show how we’re a modern brand ready to meet their needs,” Jarratt said. 

    By targeting Gen Z c-store shoppers, consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands can find and influence these younger buyers and begin to build loyalty.

    Key Gen Z Takeaways

    • Gen Zers are big fans of convenience stores
    • They’re highly influenced by ads and social media, especially when shopping in the c-store
    • In uncertain economic times, brands should focus on and advertise to the most receptive consumers, making Gen Z c-store shoppers an attractive audience to target

    Gen Z Loves Convenience Stores

    In their weekly c-store visits, Gen Z shoppers load up. They’re twice as likely as any other generation to buy 10 or more items while at the convenience store. 

    So what do they buy? More Bart Simpson, less Homer. They’re big on packaged beverages, candy and snacks, and staples, like milk and juice, but they’re less likely to pick up beer and lottery tickets. Given the frequency of c-store purchase occasions, CPG brands in these categories have many opportunities to influence this generation’s buying decisions.

    C-store as Innovation Lab

    Don’t overlook the c-store’s potential as your innovation lab. Because convenience stores serve in-the-moment needs and primarily offer individually packaged items at low prices, shoppers are more motivated to try new products. You can use this environment to test new concepts with Gen Z, which is 31% more likely than any other generation to feel that the c-store is a good place to discover new products.

    Gen Z is also more likely than other generations to use a delivery service (such as 7-NOW, Instacart, DoorDash, Uber, etc.) to get products delivered from a convenience store. Therefore, you have a great opportunity to market to them while they’re in the comfort of their homes, confident they’ll get out an app and order your products for delivery.

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    Gen Z: Swayed by Advertising and Social Media

    This generation is also less likely to enter a convenience store knowing exactly what they want to buy. At the same time, they’re also the most likely to buy a product they recently saw an ad for or purchase a product they saw featured inside the store. 

    They’re also influenced by social media. In fact, they’re more likely than other generations to buy something they’ve seen promoted on a c-store’s social media channels.

    NCS_GenZ_Graphic2 (1) 

    Presenting a Can't-Miss Opportunity

    The convenience store remains as relevant as ever (Proof: Clerks 3 was released just this year!), and its most enthusiastic customers are Generation Z.

    Gen Z audiences are paying attention to ads, are willing to try new things and buy multiple items when they shop at c-stores. Brands have an opportunity to build awareness and loyalty with this audience by targeting those who shop in c-stores. 

    Not only will you court customers who are open to trying things out, but you also gain the opportunity to build a lifelong customer who, as they get older, will become increasingly brand loyal. 

    Interested in more c-store insights? Check out our new ebook, that’s full of helpful details.

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