Convenience Stores and the Marketing of Foods and Beverages Through Product Assortment
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BACKGROUND: Product assortment (presence and variety) is a key in-store marketing strategy to influence consumer choice. Quantifying the product assortment of healthier and less-healthy foods and beverages in convenience stores can inform changes in the food environment. PURPOSE: To document product assortment (i.e., presence and variety of specific foods and beverages) in convenience stores. METHODS: Observational survey data were collected onsite in 2011 by trained promotora-researchers in 192 convenience stores. Frequencies of presence and distributions of variety were calculated in 2012. Paired differences were examined using the Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-rank test. RESULTS: Convenience stores displayed a large product assortment of sugar-sweetened beverages (median 86.5 unique varieties); candy (76 varieties); salty snacks (77 varieties); fried chips (44 varieties); cookies and pastries (19 varieties); and frozen sweets (21 varieties). This compared with 17 varieties of non-sugar sweetened beverages and three varieties of baked chips. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test confirmed a (p<0.001) greater variety of sugar-sweetened than non-sugar-sweetened beverages, and of fried chips compared with baked chips. Basic food items provided by convenience stores included milk (84% of stores); fresh fruit (33%); fresh vegetables (35%); canned vegetables (78%); white bread (71%); and deli-style packaged meat (57%). Healthier versions of milk, canned fruit, canned tuna, bread, and deli-style packaged meat were displayed in 17%-71% of convenience stores. CONCLUSIONS: Convenience stores in this area provide a greater assortment of less-healthy compared with healthier foods and beverages. There are opportunities to influence consumer food choice through programs that alter the balance between healthier and less-healthy foods and beverages in existing convenience stores that serve rural and underserved neighborhoods and communities.
author list (cited authors)
Sharkey, J. R., Dean, W. R., & Nalty, C.