HIM's Georgina Wild has some insights from a new study of the CTN trade

For those readers whose offer is very much focused on confectionery, tobacco and news and not a full convenience offer, findings from HIM's new CTN shopper tracking programme will make interesting reading.

The reaseach involved speaking to 1,845 CTN shoppers at Co-op News Express, GT Retail, Martin's and Rippleglen stores and found the most important criteria to shoppers are product availability, staff friendliness, speed of service and value.

As expected, newspapers are the biggest footfall driver, with 38% of CTN shoppers buying into the category, making it a vital area to get right. It also makes the news display a hot location with regards to customer flow and cross-merchandising opportunities.

CTN shoppers aren't particularly price aware: only 57% knew the exact price of the confectionery they had just bought, but they do think confectionery is cheaper in a supermarket. It may be time to do some price perception work. For example, look into rounded price points, price-marked packs, and highlighting the price if comparable to supermarkets.

The programme also shows that CTN shoppers are failing to buy cigarettes between Monday and Wednesday and after 3pm. These lost sales are likely to be an availability issue rather than range.

It's no surprise to learn CTNs have a very local catchment area. More than half (52%) of customers live within a quarter of a mile, offering opportunity to use local marketing to communicate products and services via leaflets.

There is very little impulse buying in traditional CTNs, with shoppers spending almost exactly what they intended to (£3.43 on average). Levels of impulse are much higher in full c-stores (13% compared with 5% at CTNs). This could be due to a better range or visibility such as secondary sitings for key sellers, so a fresh look at merchandising may well pay dividends.