Consumers 18-29 Prefer C-Stores Over Drug and Grocery Stores

Yet, they aren’t brand loyal and are easily lured by discount offers.

August 01, 2019

BOSTON—According to NACS State of the Industry data, packaged beverages are the third largest category for convenience stores with a 15.3% share of inside sales. 

Of the consumers GasBuddy surveyed, 51% said they buy a beverage at a gas station c-store at least once a week, and 20% said they do so daily. The survey also found that packaged beverages, including carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, water, sports drinks, juices and teas, are impulse items, with 65% saying their beverage purchases are typically unplanned before arriving at the store. 

However, brand loyalty is at an all-time low, with 67% of consumers saying they try new items based on discounts or attractive packaging. 

“Today's consumers—especially millennials—are buying more food on-the-go, including snacks, drinks and prepared meals,” said Frank Beard, convenience retail analyst at GasBuddy. “Efficiency is paramount in today’s society, and convenience stores are providing the desired ease and choice of options for an evolving customer. C-stores are also responding to a growing desire for healthier options.”

The survey results revealed different product preferences for various age groups. Water is the top beverage product purchased at a gas station c-store by 18-29 year-olds, but carbonated soft drinks topped the list for the 30-44 and 45-60 age groups. Among other findings:

  • Convenience outlets are more popular than drug and grocery stores. An astounding 56% in the 18-29 year old age group said they get their beverages at a convenience store versus a drug or grocery store, followed by the 30-44 age group at 53%.
  • Consumer disloyalty is becoming more commonespecially among younger consumers. Of the 45-60 age group, 39% said they are brand loyal when it comes to packaged beverages. But in the 30-44 age range, that number dropped 8%, and another 6% in the 18-29 group. 
  • Loving those deals. Among respondents, 78% said a coupon or discount would influence their decision to purchase, while the 18-29 age group is the most easily influenced (85%) by those offers.
  • Trending healthy. The survey found that 44% of respondents strongly agreed that they have moved more toward healthier options, such as sparkling water or drinks with vitamins and electrolytes, over traditional soft drinks as compared to five years ago.