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4 Ways to Diversify Roller-Grill Options

Brought to you by Home Market Foods.

Grab-and-go options at convenience stores are the perfect meal solution for younger consumers who are busy, on the go, and don’t want to stop at the drive-thru.

According to Technomic’s 2016 Generational Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, Gen Z represents about 15% of the population and is composed of people aged 23 and under—a significant portion of people who patronize c-stores. Older Gen Zers rely heavily on foodservice, so it’s important for c-stores to feature items that Gen Zers crave.

What’s more, younger consumers tend not to view roller-grill items as “gas-station food,” so retailers have the opportunity to draw in customers who want a quick, tasty snack or meal by offering unique items. To appeal to Gen Z, an emphasis on better-for-you items, trending flavors and convenience is key.

High-protein options for the health-conscious consumer

According to the Technomic report, 32% of Gen Zers say they would like to eat food cooked at home more often, but they just don’t have the time to do so. For these consumers, it’s important that they have a variety of healthy, satisfying options to choose from when they’re on the go. 

According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, 39% of consumers are more likely to buy and pay more for items that are high in protein at restaurants. Items that feature protein like chicken are particularly successful, as consumers are familiar with the flavors, and also often perceive chicken to be a healthier option than other choices. C-store retailers can apply that knowledge to their food offerings—and because high-protein foods may be more successful sellers, it can be a lucrative choice to offer several types of these items.

Innovative items for the roller grill

While hot dogs are the traditional roller-grill food offered at c-stores, more and more retail outlets are adding unique and innovative options from the roller grill that extend beyond what’s expected. 

Home Market Foods, the pioneer behind developing an alternative to the all-hot-dog roller grill, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its flame-broiled Cheeseburger RollerBites. Their new Burger Joint Cheeseburgers bring craveable, pub-style burger flavors to your roller grill like never before.

Roller grills now offer all-day meal and snacking options such as breakfast and ethnic sausages, egg rolls, taquitos, tamales, and a variety of protein-packed Chicken RollerBites (14 grams of protein and only 190 calories). By offering innovative items, operators can captivate younger consumers’ interest and enjoy more sales from the roller grill.

Craveable flavors

Fifty-nine percent of Gen Zers say that they like trying new flavors of food from time to time, according to the Technomic Generational report, so offering innovative and craveable flavor options from the roller grill is also important.

During breakfast, options such as maple-pancake sausage, hash browns and sausage, and chorizo are appealing, and for the rest of the day, bold and savory options such as Buffalo Ranch Chicken, Sriracha Chicken, and Cracked Black Pepper & Bleu Cheeseburger RollerBites can pique consumers’ interest. Retailers can offer certain varieties as LTOs, which are proven traffic drivers as well.

Serving ethnic options is also a great way to get Gen Zers’ attention. According to Technomic’s Generational report, older Gen Zers (ages 18-23) are more adventurous eaters than young Gen Zers (ages 13-17). By offering global flavors or spicy snack options, such as Bahama Mama Spicy German-Style Sausages, and other mega-trending, culture-specific flavors like Greek, Mexican, Thai, or ethnic BBQs, such as Korean, consumers who want something new and interesting will find what they’re looking for.

Comfort food and retro flavor trends are making a comeback as well. Roller-grill items in cheeseburger, corn dog, chicken and bacon club, and pizza varieties are all popular options to offer.

Younger consumers are more likely to try new flavors than older generations are, so operators have the freedom to offer a range of new and unique tastes.

Quick yet premium options

According to Technomic’s Generational report, low prices are most important to Gen Zers (compared to other generations), and roller-grill items offer a great value for those who are budget-conscious. And because 44% of Gen Zers say they purchase prepared foods at c-stores at least once a month, retailers should be sure to offer the items that Gen Zers want.

Beyond being quick, foods should be premium, too—made with quality ingredients that contribute to a great-tasting product. According to the Technomic Generational report, 64% of Gen Zers say they are more likely to purchase food and beverages that are premium, so retailers should be sure to promote food items that are premium.


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