Feb 06, 2014 • By

Watching the signs in the convenience store

In convenience stores, consumers are focused on the quick, in-and-out trip. That means that merchandising must work extra hard to catch their attention.

The General Mills Convenience & Foodservice division recently conducted a study to understand what types of signs and messages are most likely to break through.

Most people surveyed – 51 percent – said that no signs at all caught their attention.

The elements of signage that did capture attention included those that were described as “Easy-to-read” (79 percent), “Colorful” (65 percent), “Informative” (65 percent), “Product I love” (56 percent) and “Offers a good value” (49 percent).

Only 18 percent of consumers said that a sign or promotion motivated them to make an impulse buy.

“We asked 130 consumers to tell us what signs, promotions or displays caught their eye on one of their normal trips to a convenience store,” says Chris Quam, consumer insights manager for General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. “The cool thing is that we did this study through their mobile phones. So they provided unvarnished, in-the-moment responses, including photos, that would have been difficult to get using any other method.”


The survey took place in October 2013.

“Consumers are in the convenience store for just a minute or two so signage needs to be easy-to read, colorful and feature a clear call-to-action,” says Chris. “The message needs to be grasped in an instant. Consumers need to know that if they take advantage of the offer, they’ll get value for their money, and purchasing won’t slow them down. Speed is the name of the game.”

The team shared some of their findings and recommendations in this infographic.

Infographic: General Mills Merchandising by General Mills

“In my work in Global Consumer Insights, I focus primarily on executing research that helps our convenience retailers build their businesses,” Chris says. “So I spend a lot of time studying the behavior of convenience store shoppers, then taking those insights to the industry. That was the genesis of this merchandising study. The part I really love is taking the learning back to our retail partners. If we can help them build their business, then we all win.”

The Convenience & Foodservice team developed five key areas for convenience store signage, summarized by the acronym D.R.I.V.E, that capture consumer attention:

D: Design

High contrast, bold and contrasting colors, and appealing photography.

R: Route

Merchandising needs to be placed in the highest traffic areas.

I: Immediacy

Promote immediate-gratification items and deals. Build urgency to act now.

V: Value

Consumers notice prices, and deals and freebies catch their attention.

E: Execution

If you are going to promote it, it needs to be in stock. Stockouts and poorly maintained shelves turn consumers off.

The General Mills Convenience & Foodservice division serves the convenience, foodservice and bakery industries by providing quality products from several of our brands, along with culinary, nutrition education and marketing resources to help operators succeed.