Chinese convenience-store customers seek quality

Product quality is a key factor for most Chinese convenience store customers.

New research from global market intelligence agency Mintel show that 53 per cent of convenience store consumers in China want quality products, followed by other preferences such as proximity (52 per cent) and range of product options (31 per cent).

Also, a quarter of consumers surveyed say they are influenced the the range of in-store services available, while 24 per cent look to a convenience store’s payment options, and speed of service. Rounding out the preferences are appealing promotions (20 per cent) and loyalty schemes (12 per cent).

Mintel’s survey covered 3000 internet users aged 20 to 49 years in tier-one to -three cities in February.

Its data shows that total convenience-store retail sales have performed well in the past five years in comparison to supermarkets and hypermarkets. Convenience stores had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6 per cent from 2011 to last year. Furthermore, there was a 10.2 per cent CAGR in outlet numbers during the same period.

“Convenience-store chains must start to innovate as today’s consumers are seeking wider product and service ranges,” says Mintel Asia-Pacific director of research Matthew Crabbe. “Consumers also want more localised and individualised service, and for store chains to respond quickly to their changing needs.”

More snacks

When it comes to product popularity, Chinese customers are buying more salty snacks, bakery products and confectionery items. Salty snacks are bought by 70 per cent of surveyed consumers, up from 58 per cent in 2015, while 63 per cent say they buy bakery products (up from 56 per cent) and 62 per cent opt for confectionery (up 7 per cent).

However, the most commonly bought items are dairy products (75 per cent) and soft drinks (72 per cent).

For services, mobile phone top-ups lead the list (52 per cent of respondents) followed by collecting and sending parcels (45 per cent). Compared with Mintel’s 2015 survey, the parcel service has seen the biggest growth in use, up by 23 points.

Meanwhile, 49 per cent of urban Chinese consumers like to be able to visit a convenience store any time, day or night, while 64 per cent are attracted more by budget-priced basic products. A significant 59 per cent would be prepared to use automated check-outs, if available.

Mintel’s research shows that three-quarters of urban Chinese consumers think convenience stores should be bigger, while 66 per cent would like to see more overseas products and 46 per cent say they prefer being able to order online from a convenience store for delivery at any time.

For more than 40 years, Mintel has gathered and analysed market data with offices in such cities as Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.

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