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How do convenience stores attract students? Think laterally. November 15, 2016

Posted by nicholas gill in thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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Commenting in The Grocer on how convenience stores can attract students. (Membership required for the link – see images above).

The challenge for convenience stores with students is to dissuade them from the established and new ‘metro style’ convenience supermarkets and also, crucially, online shopping.

A simple search for ‘student food shopping’ will bring up a large volume of super helpful hints, tips and strategies for stretching the budget ranging form avoiding the supermarket and doing everything online, not going on student loan ‘pay day’ or an empty stomach to planning in advance and only sticking to the list. Variations on advice for most people really. But what they all seem to not touch is the convenience store. Likely this is because of the rise of Tesco et al into convenience stores is equalising the advantage convenience stores once had. Consider that sales of Tesco Metro, Sainsbury’s Local and Waitrose Mini grew by 16% Vs only 2.3% against Spar and Londis (Bernstein Research 2015). There has also been a great deal of movement in the non-supermarket brands with Nisa, Premier and CostCutter also joining the throng.

The independents have a a perception that convenience really means a higher price point to penalise you for the act of convenience. But this is not true when you see supermarket brand convenience stores charge prices up to 6% higher than the main supermarket with some in Central London up to 12% higher (Bernstein Research, 2015).

The opportunity to attract the student audience, however, needs to be more than just price. While budget is a key element and one expense that students cannot live without, the need to fit into they need to exploit the faster-living, smaller basket demands of this generation. Do not expect them to fill up with ready meals as these are expensive and also likely to be nutritionally unsound. Instead, think laterally – this generation is used to social communities, making new friends, connecting and helping. Embrace the sharing economy by helping them to facilitate this on a food basis. Create a localised ‘grub club’ where the power of the student community can participate and receive regular, wholesome – and likely spectacular meals – for a contribution rather than having to do everything themselves. Using social tools to the help them plan for meals; make it easy with store cupboard and ‘in the moment’ ingredients that are price sensitive. Giving them a reason to think about and continue to use you rather than just as a convenient grab and dash to refuel between lectures or nights outs.

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