Service Reigns Supreme

There is no greater ally for convenience store owners than their supplier partners. When retailers boost sales and satisfy their customers, everyone in the supply chain benefits. When Convenience Store Decisions launched its Reader’s Choice Awards four years ago, our premise was simple: To find out just who retailers identified as their top supplier partners.

What’s so important about this study is that the information gleaned within comes directly from key decision makers at 120 multi-site chains. The surveys were designed and conducted by Hagen Research Inc. at the request of CSD to determine which manufacturers are calling on c-store chains and to learn how these decision makers feel about merchandising and promotional programs that support manufacturers’ product lines.

The information in this report was obtained via mail survey techniques with buyers and merchandisers of the specific products studied. Interviews were conducted both at headquarters and regional offices of top convenience store chains (those operating at least 50 stores) as well as with smaller chains (those operating between 10 and 49 stores). Interviews were closed out in October.

United Front
The key finding in the study is that growth opportunities exist across many categories, such as packaged beverages, juices and teas and, surprisingly, isotonics and energy drinks. The Hagen Survey found 19% of the 95 buyers of isotonics or energy drinks reported no sales presentations from isotonic or energy drink suppliers in the last two months.

Given the category’s size, suppliers are missing significant opportunities to grow sales. Energy drinks are growing at an annual rate of 12% and are expected to surpass $9 billion by 2011, according to “Energy Drinks in the U.S.,” a report from market research publisher Packaged Facts.

Since 2002, when total retail sales were just $1.2 billion, the market for energy drinks has increased nearly 440% to an estimated $6.6 billion in 2007. Packaged Facts forecasts that convenience, both in the form of portability and totality of ingredients, will drive the energy drink market, as manufacturers begin incorporating nutrition, energy, great taste, pain killing and anti-aging ingredients into their products.

To get their products and service more prominently displayed in convenience stores, suppliers should be reaching out to key decision makers at both the retail level and company headquarters. Category managers have enormous influence with company leaders, but they are often overlooked in the promotional process.

Other Key Findings:
» Core Customer. No surprise here, it’s the American male, 21-44 years old. He’ll typically be a blue-collar worker with a high school degree and some college education. He visits a c-store three or more times each week, usually buying packaged beverages, dispensed beverages, coffee, sweet and salty snacks, beer, tobacco products, prepared food and, of course, fuel. What is a surprise is that tobacco has slipped on his list. In surveys, packaged beverages, snacks and beer ranked higher as a destination. Tobacco taxes and smoking restrictions are definitely taking a toll.

» Fastest-Growing Segments. Females ages 25-60 years old, coming from a diverse background, but usually with a high school and college degree. They shop at a c-store at least once or twice each week. Hispanic men and women ages 25-45 years old are also a booming demographic to target. They shop and eat at a c-store at least once a week.

Retail Participants:

7-Eleven Inc.
Dallas TX

Albertsons
Boise ID

Amerada Hess
Attleboro MA

AM/PM Mini Mart
Atascadero CA

Associated Oil of SC
Chapin SC

Big D Oil Co.
Cheyenne WY

Big River Oil Co.
Hannibal MO

Bishopville Petroleum Co. Inc.
Bishopville SC

BP
Columbus OH

C & S Inc.
Bloomington IN

Carolina Convenience Corp.
Columbia SC

Casey’s General Stores
Ankeny IA

CB Mart Inc.
Belton SC

Cefco
Temple TX

Chevron Products Co.
San Ramon CA

CHS Inc.
Saint Paul MN

Circle K Southeast
Villa Rica GA

Circle K West
Phoenix AZ

Clark’s Pump N Shop Inc.
Ashland KY

Coco Mart Inc.
Claremont NH

Cogo’s Co.
Belle Vernon PA

Consun Food Industries Inc.
Elyria OH

Cracker Barrel Stores
Baton Rouge LA

Craddock Oil Co. Inc.
McComb MS

Crown Central LLC
Baltimore MD

Dandy Mini Mart
Sayre PA

Dead River Convenience Stores
Houlton ME

Dixie Oil Co. of Ala.
Meridian MS

Dodge Stores
Tupelo MS

Domino Food & Fuel Inc.
Clinton OK

E. J. Pope & Son Inc.
Mount Olive NC

Elliott Oil Co.
Ottumwa IA

Emanuel Inc.
Edmonds WA

Exxon Mobil Corp.
Sterling VA

EZ Mart Convenience Stores
Texarkana TX

E-Z Stop Food Marts Inc.
Maryville TN

Fastop Inc.
Jasper IN

First Coast Energy LLP

Jacksonville FL

Fisher Oil Co.
McKenzie TN

Flash Foods Inc.
Waycross GA

Friendly Mart Inc.
Mount Olive NC

Giant Industries
Gallup NM

Git N Go Convenience Stores Inc
Des Moines IA

Granite Investments Ltd.
Wichita Falls TX

Grovertown Truckstop Inc.
Grovertown IN

H & S Enterprises Inc.
Lewiston ID

Handy Food Stores Inc.
Tampa FL

Holiday Cos.
Minneapolis MN

J D Street & Co. Inc.
Maryland Heights MO

J M Oil Co.
St. Cloud MN

Jack in the Box Inc.
San Diego CA

Jeco Inc.
Rathdrum ID

JFM Inc.
Jackson MS

Karco Inc.
Mount Vernon IL

Kelley Williamson Co.
Rockford IL

Kum & Go
West Des Moines IA

Kwik Chek Food Stores Inc.
Bonham TX

Kwik Trip Inc.
La Crosse WI

L & L Stores Inc.
Nashville NC

Lard Oil Co. Inc.
Denham Springs LA

Lazy Lees One-Stop
Norwood MO

Marine Corp Exchange
Lake Ridge VA

Martin & Bayley Inc.
Carmi IL

Maverik Inc.
Salt Lake UT

Meijer
Grand Rapids MI

Mercury Fuel Service Inc.
Waterbury CT

Meyers Express Mart
Chillicothe IL

Midwest Petroleum Co.
Saint Louis MO

Miller & Holmes Inc.
Detroit Lakes MN

Minit Stop
Kahului HI

Moyle Petroleum Co.
Rapid City SD

Nella Oil Co.
Auburn CA

Newcomb Oil Co.
Bardstown KY

Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes
Canastota NY

Ocean Petroleum LLC
Newark MD

P. Hastings Corp.
New Cumberland PA

Pacific Pride
Grand Rapids MI

Parker Oil Company
South Hill VA

Pence Oil Co. Inc.
Watseka IL

Pilot Travel Centers LLC
Knoxville TN

Plaid Pantries
Beaverton OR

Polk Oil Co. Inc.
Homer MI

Quality State Oil Co.
Sheboygan WI

Quick Chek Food Stores Inc.
Whitehouse Station NJ

Quik Stop Markets Inc.
Fremont CA

R & C Petroleum
North Platte NE

R. H. Foster Energy LLC
Hampden ME

Riley Enterprises Inc.
Bel Air MD

Roadside Petroleum, Inc.
Pleasant Prairie WI

Royal Farms
Baltimore MD

Saneholtz-McKarns
Montpelier OH

Scaff’s Inc.
Lake City FL

Shell Oil Co.
Houston TX

Sonbyrne Sales Inc.
Weedsport NY

Speedway Superamerica
Springfield OH

Staples Oil Co. Inc.
Windom MN

Sunoco, Inc.
Collegeville PA

Sutey Oil Co. Inc.
Butte MT

Tesoro Corp.
Auburn WA

The Pantry, Inc.
Greensboro NC

The Spinx Co.
Greenville SC

Town Pump Inc.
Butte MT

Trexcon Inc.
Independence MO

Tri Star Energy LLC
Nashville TN

Tri-Par Oil Inc.
Saukville WI

Triple S Express
San Antonio TX

United Energy
Raleigh NC

Valero Marketing & Supply
San Antonio TX

Wilcohess LLC
Winston-Salem NC

Willis Oil Co Inc.
Griffin GA

Wilson Farms Inc.
Rochester NY

Winnsboro Petroleum Co.
Winnsboro SC

Workman Oil Co.
Forest VA

Xtramart
North Grosvenordale CT

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