A new breed of consumer is emerging and retailers need to be ready to meet their needs to thrive in 2015 and beyond, according to convenience shopper experts HIM Research & Consulting.

After previous generations of shoppers who were cash rich and time poor, followed during the recession by increasingly price-conscious consumers, the next wave - dubbed Generation C by HIM - expect both good prices and the ultimate in convenience, and they expect immediate access to both. 

According to HIM, 28% of shoppers are saying they are visiting a larger number of retailers compared to last year, with the average UK adult now using three different retailers in a typical week. As many as 85% UK adults do a top up shop somewhere every week - a net increase of 5% year on year - with as many as 30% saying they don’t do a main weekly or monthly shop. This behaviour is driving a change in shopping habits and expectations, with Generation C shoppers less forgiving than ever for poor service and other failures at the retail point of purchase, argues HIM.

HIM insights director Katie Littler said: “For Generation C shoppers, you’ve only got two chances, then they’ll go elsewhere. Outstanding service is a minimum requirement.

“For this generation, grocery shopping is an ‘inconvenience in itself’, so their choices will increasingly be driven by service and experience – how easy, stress-free or enjoyable was that experience?” 

Improved access to information on products, prices and services - enabled by smartphones and social media - will also mean shoppers will increasingly demand honesty and integrity from retailers, as well as an increasingly personalised service and in-store offer, HIM concluded. With shoppers only spending an average of 5 minutes in store and 20% visiting only the till area, retailers in turn have to seize the opportunity to use digital communication, queue management, and staff upselling to interrupt and inspire shoppers to spend more. A particular opportunity is in meal solutions, which now account for 24p of every £1 spent in convenience stores. With 31% of shoppers saying that they don’t know what they are having for dinner that evening, further growth is expected in meal deals, product development and recipe cards on fixtures.

Retailers are also changing behaviour and looking to refine their offers, according to HIM research. As many as 15% of unaffiliated retailers say they are going to join a symbol group in the next two years, although one in two don’t know yet which one they will join. 

With new categories such as fresh, food to go, hot coffee and a wider range of services and branded concessions being introduced into stores, planning and allocating macro space will become an increasing challenge.

Littler added: “Dynamic market conditions and a new breed of shopper have created a ‘perfect storm’ which points towards revolution, not evolution, for UK convenience. Get ready for an exciting year!”