Carbonated Soft Drinks: Strong, But Losing Ground

Most carbonated soft drink companies found 2007 a good year, but not because of CSD sales in the U.S. Increases in carbonated beverage sales outside North America plus profits from their non-carbonated acquisitions are keeping Coke and Pepsi strong, despite the introduction of new products such as Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi Max, industry analysts


The Customer: Wine Appetites and Beer Wallets

The 2008 consumer, complex and roiling in its many needstates, has become a multi-headed hydra whose rituals and habits are being altered by external forces. It is, however, a creature predictable on at least one front: It always appreciates the convenience and value of the neighborhood c-store. Pinched by rising costs of fuel, food and

Cigarettes: Taxation Taking a Toll

Cigarettes by far continue to be the top in-store category based on sales dollars. On a monthly basis, the industry per store average for 2007 was $39,127. However, its gross profit contribution slipped to 3.2% to $6,152 falling behind package beverages ($6,526.) The reason tobacco fell to No. 2 is simply taxation. Since 2002, 43

Bottled Water: New Water Pours Forth

Conventional wisdom says the bottled water market is flooded, but that may not be the case at the high end, according to Beverage Marketing, which reports that high-end brands like Iceland Spring and Iceland Glacial, Voss and Isbre appear eager to parlay an exotic source and upscale packaging into an above-premium business, much as Fiji

The Competition: Discretionary Spending Looms Large

For the past decade, the list of retailers that have cut into the convenience store industry’s consumer base has included the usual suspects: Wal-Mart, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Walgreens and a slew of other national brands in a smattering of channels. C-stores are predictably pitted against those same powerhouses in 2008, but the environment is far more

Other Tobacco products: OTP On The Rise

A surefire marketing strategy: Develop a need where consumers don’t even know they have one. The flipside: Wait until a need becomes so apparent, so prevalent and so overwhelming that it can no longer be justifiably ignored as a legitimate need. A pocketful of lawsuits and a barrage of tax increases in its portfolio, and

Juices and teas: Fruit Drinks Flat, Teas Growing

Information Resources Inc. (IRI) reported that the total count for the sparkling juice category is $78 million and rising. Even so, it’s a bit difficult to tell how much traction the average c-store retailer can get from them given the huge number of beverage choices available in this category today. Other than specialty sparkling beverages

Car Wash and Motor Fuels: Fueling Frustration

Fuel price volatility is here to stay. Marketers must learn how to manage it to their advantage. That was the cold, hard message conveyed in the 2008 NACS State of the Industry (SOI) report. Marketers are urged to pay attention to sales volumes, but also focus on gross margin dollars and to always look at

Candy, gum and mints: Candy Continues to be Dominant

The U.S. retail confectionery category generated approximately $29 billion in sales in 2007 and the profit margin for the category was approximately 35%, according to the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) U.S. Confectionery Market report. Convenience stores accounted for 15%, or $4.5 billion, of overall candy sales in 2007, surpassing drug stores and dollar stores, but

Security and operations: Security and operations: Security and operations: Operating Costs Rise Across the Board

The cost of operating a convenience store is up significantly thanks in part to a number of factors, the most glaring being interchange fees and credit card costs. But labor and utilities also experience significantly higher year-on-year gains. The industry’s operating expenses on a per-store, per-month basis rose across the board in 2007, according to

Salty And Meat Snacks: Healthy Trend in Snacks Sales

Like other retail channels, the convenience store industry is witnessing a change in consumers’ snack choices. "We’re definitely seeing a shift to healthier snacks, but I think it’s a little slower than some of the other channels just because our customer base is still predominantly younger males who aren’t as much into healthier eating as

Is Bulk Candy Marketing Right for You?

While single packs of gum and candy get the most attention in the candy aisle, retailers often report strong margins from bulk packages and multi packs, which carry a higher price and typically offer a greater value for consumers. But will that greater value translate into consistently stronger sales? The answer appears to be yes…sometimes,

Where to Find the Best Hourly Employees

You might be surprised to learn that the best source of new employees in convenience retailing has changed very little over the past 25 years. The number one best source of great employees still is and always has been referrals—people you already know or who your employees know. In surveys we conducted between Feb. 2007

Bring Trust and Loyalty Back to the Workplace

Once upon a time in corporate America people actually liked going to work every day. They enjoyed the camaraderie of their co-workers, and they truly believed their work was making a difference, not only in the organization, but also in the world. Likewise, the company took care of its people, listened to them, and provided

Changing the Channel

Maybe it’s all headed toward a day of total convergence, when the lines separating one industry from the next will be irreversibly blurred. Consider the freewheeling dynamics of retailing in the past few years: McDonald’s has been offering DVD rentals by way of in-store kiosks. Blockbuster stores have begun offering c-store fare such as fountain

No Mystery Here: Speedway Voted Best Customer Service

It’s impossible to know if the pool of customers hired by market research firm Corporate Research International (CRI) would have pegged Speedway SuperAmerica LLC as the leader in customer service five years ago. The Enon, Ohio-based marketer wasn’t even among the handful of convenience store chains whose customer service was evaluated quarterly by the research

ROI: Return on Involvement

To the lay observer, it was just a Styrofoam cup jammed between the windshield and dashboard of a working man’s pickup parked outside an Indiana convenience store. To Jay Ricker, it was testament to the importance of mastering the fundamentals, concrete proof that having a good thing means knowing when you should or shouldn’t mess

Secure Your System

MasterCard announces that more than 40 million credit card numbers belonging to U.S. consumers have been accessed by a computer hacker and are at risk of being used for fraud; however, company officials can’t say how long the confidential information has been missing. A disgruntled technology employee cracks his former company’s computer system and destroys

Sweet Deliverance

Caffeine-infused potato chips. Ginseng-infused coffee. Guarana-infused gum. No matter the combination, functional food manufacturers are probably trying it. Add this one to the list: Sedative-infused chocolates. The confectionary world is on its way to proving the salability of health and energy products doesn’t have to end at the threshold of the candy aisle. In the

Moving Over to the Dark Side

Chocolate may be bringing up the rear of America’s upscale revolution, but consumers and a growing number of c-store operators aren’t complaining. Higher-priced, better quality chocolates are finding acceptance on more store shelves all the time–great for consumers and great for operators’ bottom lines. Resistance to the higher price points will fade in time as

Driving the Dairy Business

Convenience store operators nationwide are grappling with nearly unprecedented food inflation, particularly involving bakery and dairy products, that is sending tremors throughout the retail supply chain. Recent price volatility fueled by a weak dollar, rising energy costs, consumer wariness, competitive pressure and other factors is making it difficult to market staples like bakery and dairy

Consumers Crunch Their Coins

A portrait of 1 in 2 American consumers at the dawn of 2008: cash-strapped, bargain-hungry and fuel-fatigued. So says research by The Nielsen Co., where 49% of U.S. consumers surveyed said they were slicing spending to compensate for rising gas prices. The high price of regular gas in December 2007 was $3.06 per gallon, and

Retailers Salute Their Leading Suppliers

Despite the much-ballyhooed growth of chains like Walgreens, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Wal-Mart, it is convenience stores that remain an important daily stop for the nation’s busy consumers. As a result, convenience stores represent a powerful sales opportunity for product and service supplier companies, CSD set out to find the industry’s top performers as identified

RFID: Not Ready For Prime Time

A radio frequency identification (RFID) tag is like a barcode on steroids. A barcode printed on a cracker box may indicate that the box contains crackers and possibly identify the manufacturer, while an RFID tag carries a serial number that distinguishes that particular box of crackers from all others in the world. Although some companies

Empowering Customers

Self-Service Gift Cards Paul Burel, director of marketing strategy for U-Scan, Fujitsu’s self-checkout line, said gift cards are a good option for c-store operators “because it’s convenient. It’s the kind of point-of-presence transaction to generate that last-minute gift that someone needs to get.” Going with a self-service gift card program is “really not an add-on,”