As the two age groups that most benefited the convenience store category, Baby Boomers, ages 46-64, and young adults, ages 18-33, age over the next decade, convenience stores will need to adapt to meet their changing needs, reportsThe NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y.

Officials say NPD’s Convenience Store Monitor tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 49,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S. They predict that the aging dynamics of the two largest population segments -- Boomers and young adults -- will alter how, when and why they use c-stores over the next decade.

Using fresh food as an example of the aging curve's impact on purchase incidence, NPD’s Convenience Store Monitor finds incidence decreases in the 18-33 age group, increases for ages 34-41 and then stays at the same level  in the 41-65 age group, until age 65, at which time it declines.

The NPD report also found that value, although still important, ranks below convenience as a consumer enters middle-age. A young Boomer who is still in the workforce still places an importance on convenience while a retired Boomer is less concerned with convenience but is looking for healthier food options to meet their dietary needs. 

“When you look at how the Boomers and young adults today have affected the category just by their sheer numbers, it’s important to understand how their behavior will change as they age and the impact it will have,” says David Portalatin, industry analyst for NPD’s convenience store channel research. “Think about Boomers as they move out of the workforce, and how their changing lifestyles will alter how they use c-stores; or young adults as they mature into middle age and their needs change.”

Portalatin adds that while c-stores need to understand the changing need of their core shoppers, they also need to nurture the next generation of customers.

“C-stores need to cater to the needs of customers coming through the door today with an eye out for who will be coming through the door tomorrow," he says.