It is common for the forecourt shopper to be banded up within convenience, but the fact is they are very different. Forecourt retailers need to understand how to capitalise on these differences in order to drive footfall and grow their share of the market, writes HIM’s Giorgio Rigali.

The forecourt shopper is much more likely to be in full-time employment than the average convenience shopper (60% vs 43%). Commuters are using forecourts while travelling to and from work or between meetings. As a result, they are likely to be more time poor than the average convenience consumer. In fact, the average forecourt shopper spends 26 seconds less time in store than the average convenience shopper. Retailers therefore need to merchandise correctly to ensure shoppers can locate items quickly.

Average basket spend within a forecourt (£5.80) is 70p lower than the convenience average. With limited time to influence, retailers need to work hard to drive higher spend.

Cross-category merchandising is one way of achieving this. Place products that complement each other together and inspire your shoppers with POS and deals that encourage them to purchase additional products, or trade up.

The missions that are driving shoppers to store are constantly shifting, too. The importance of the fuel mission has decreased significantly since 2013, with mission penetration almost halving. Fuel has gone from comfortably being the main driver to a forecourt, to the third over the past five years, with top-up shop leapfrogging it into first.

Shoppers are increasingly turning to forecourts for their weekly top-up needs, up 9% in the past five years. However, this does not mean shoppers are no longer purchasing fuel, it just means the main reason they are visiting has changed.

Food to go continues to be a huge opportunity for forecourts, but it is top-up and treat that have seen their share of the channel increase. Retailers should consider creating theatre around the treat mission in order to tempt and inspire shoppers into indulging.

Due to the limited time to influence, retailers should also consider secondary locations for fixtures to increase the likelihood of driving shopper attention and footfall to specific products.