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    Social Influencers: The Most Sought-After Consumers of Our Time

    One of the number one customer generators is "word-of-mouth" referrals.  As the way that people communicate with one another continues to evolve, we find ourselves a long way away from the days of a true face-to-face recommendation.  Now your business' continued success is depending on the conversations of the internet, social media in particular.  With 74% of consumers relying on these social media conversations to make their buying decisions, it's no wonder the term "social influencers" came to be.

    Who Are They?

    "Millennials are the largest demographic visiting convenience stores today"[i], and they are also the most prominent demographic on social media outlets today.  Their online influence often decides what items will sell or trend in c-stores [ii]. These customers have the power to promote products and businesses almost instantly through their various online social media accounts and the power to give them a bad reputation just as quickly.

    How Do They Do It?

    The term social influencers describes people who are promoting their favorite products on the social media platforms they use every day, thus encouraging their audience to purchase the same things. Exposure can range from a picture of the product to an entire video review of the item on YouTube.  Most people who are using social media to share their opinions and talk about their experiences are social influencers in one way or another.  Whether they Snapchat a picture of themselves at their favorite restaurant or Instagram a video of their dog eating their favorite treat, they are increasing awareness of all the places and things in their lives.  There's even a community of people have even made social media influencing their job.

    What Do They Want?

    • Grocery Sections with Fresh Options

    Millennials are used to getting higher quality products at a faster rate, and food products are not an exception[iv]. 31% of customers aged 18 to 35 come into c-stores in search of readily available breakfast foods and better-for-you alternatives[v]. These often include organic options, vegetarian or vegan items, or just an overall larger veggie and fresh food section. Consider stocking exclusive and delicious products that contain many different ingredients or items for a whole meal within these sections. Having these types of items all in one expanded grocery section is more convenient and appealing to over 28% of your millennial customers, the people most likely to tell the internet where they're shopping.

    • Varieties of Beverages

    Recently, the number one reason that millennial customers shop in convenience stores is to buy beverages. Bottled soda, hot coffee, energy drinks are the most common products that are bought. Other big sellers for customers over the age of twenty-one often include wine and other alcoholic options such as beer or cider. 27% also stated that having a quality selection of beverages is their top priority when choosing a c-store. Keep these customers happy by providing a wide selection of both local and top brand of beverages. Having any items in your store that are sourced locally is also very appealing to younger generations.

    • Services That Make Sense

    The second leading cause for millennials coming into your c-store is gasoline[vi]. Keeping your fuel prices low and competitive can often affect in-store sales. When a customer pulls over to fill up they are much more likely to come in and purchase a product vs stopping to just make a purchase inside the store. Many Millennial consumers are used to the new technology and are naturally drawn to c-stores who are incorporating advanced services and equipment. You do not have to completely redesign your store but instead, consider incorporating a few new technologies like online ordering or reward program capabilities.

    • Great Deals

    Lastly, draw in younger customers by offering online coupons and deals. 29% of millennials will go to one c-store over another just to save a few dollars. These shoppers are thrifty, smart, and are often willing to pick quality over convenience.

    Get Involved With the Influence

    The great part about social media is that businesses can leverage this channel to get even closer to their current and potential customers.  Set up social media accounts for your store and get involved in the conversations that the online communities are already having.  Take advantage of the opportunity to promote your stores hot items, new deals, building improvements and more.  By getting active on social media on behalf of your business you become a powerful social influencer.  Encouraging your customers to post about your store, or even providing a special deal with proof of a like, follow, or share is another great way to stay engaged and keep your c-store or gas station in the right conversations on social media.