Chicago-based Q1 Consulting launched a comprehensive study that shows how convenience store “regulars,” including younger males and Hispanic males, are increasingly selecting c-stores based on better-for-you options.

The study, “Capturing Opportunities in the Convenience Store Prepared Foods Channel,” which provides insight into the convenience store prepared foods channel, found that males aged 18-24 (68%) and Hispanic males (58%)—the most frequent users of convenience stores–believe finding better-for-you products is very important. Further, the study indicates that these groups associate “better-for-you” options with “fresh” and “all-natural,” which dominated choices such as low-fat, low-sodium, organic and calorie-free.

“I was surprised to see the shift in behavior for the primary shoppers of prepared foods in convenience stores,” says Tim Powell, vice president. “It’s encouraging for the venue that it’s shedding its gas station food reputation and becoming a prepared food destination for the next generation.”

The research examines trends in the channel, provides insights on consumers and retailers, profiles the top proprietary prepared food concepts and explores the impact of other channels, such as drug stores, restaurant pop-ups, commissaries/central kitchens and emerging foodservice channels.