Guess what customers are saying about your stores? Some of the answers surprised even us
By Abbey Lewis, Editor in Chief, Convenience Store Products
From behind the two-way mirror, we exchanged glances—we were perplexed, surprised, amazed. A colleague and I sat with our notebooks in the dark, prepared to hear a lot of things we already knew: Customers like variety, fresh food, clean bathrooms, etc. But when our two focus groups arrived at Product Evaluations Inc.’s offices in Oak Brook, Ill., we heard a lot of things we weren’t expecting. Did you know they don’t consider convenience stores and gas stations to be the same thing?
Product Evaluations, a foodservice market research company, usually focuses only on food. Its expertise is on your roller grill or coffee bar. But for us the company bent the rules, focusing the line of questioning on the forecourt, backcourt and new products—and, of course, foodservice.
When we began developing the questions, we realized this could be a unique opportunity to truly discern between millennial customers and all the others. So we broke them into two groups. The first group was made up mostly of Gen X shoppers, with some baby boomers. The second group was composed entirely of millennial customers.
It’s worth mentioning all panel participants are from the Chicago area, which is flush with 7-Eleven, Speedway, BP, Thorntons and independent locations. None of our participants had even heard of Wawa, much less Rutter’s, Kwik Trip or Stripes. (Maybe next year we’ll conduct a panel from Florida and see what they think …)