Kiosks represent quality of life

Kiosks represent quality of life

Kiosks and mini-stores are indispensable for many people and their social environment would be inconceivable without them. Men and women like going to their local kiosk round the corner, particularly when they want to make an impulse buy in the evening or get something for a “quick snack”. Alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are by no means the only items purchased at these outlets nowadays. Sweets and small snacks are also big sellers. Kiosks have become an important local shopping outlet and they are a fixture in the urban landscape in a period when the number of singleton and two-person households is on a steady upward trajectory. A comprehensive study was carried out by the Competence Center for Convenience at the EBS Business School and the study has now been presented officially. It surveyed 140 kiosk operators and 500 consumers right across Germany. Eleven interviews were carried out with experts and two rounds of discussion were held with consumers. The Chair for Convenience & Marketing at the EBS is endowed by Lekkerland and it is the first chair of its kind in the world. The Chair is held by Professor Sabine Möller, and the main area of research concerns developments and trends in convenience and on-the-go consumption.  

Only a minority want to be without their kiosk

There are currently around 30,000 to 40,000 kiosks (estimate by Nielsen Company) in Germany. A large number of mini-stores, refreshment stands and kiosks are located in the urban conurbations of the Rhineland, Ruhr industrial area, Rhine-Main Region, Berlin and Hamburg. They are also very popular in these areas. “Very few people living in Germany would like to be without their kiosk round the corner, even though the extension of opening hours in the food retail sector to 10.00 p.m. at night or even until midnight and the expanding product range in other shops are providing stiff competition for some kiosks,” explains Professor Möller. They represent one of the building blocks for quality of life and urban charm in lots of towns and cities.  

Social function for an entire district

The place you come from has become an important factor again for Germans. Particularly in times of economic uncertainty, people like to put their trust in old favourites. Inhabitants of big cities in particular frequently yearn for a piece of home territory and a little bit of idyllic village life where people all know each other. The kiosk “round the corner” fulfils this kind of function for many people. This is not just about the opportunity to do some shopping – kiosks also form a meeting point for all the neighbours living in a particular street or district. “Kiosks have a significant social function,” explains Professor Möller. Lots of the interviewees stated that they also like having their kiosk as a meeting point for the neighbourhood or their local district. A substantial 37 percent of kiosk customers are effectively regular customers. Another 22 percent go to the kiosk “occasionally”, and around 41 percent describe themselves as “emergency customers” who only visit the kiosk if they have forgotten something on their “regular shopping trip to the supermarket”. Kiosks also provide jobs for local people, particularly if the owners come from a background of migration. 71 percent of the kiosks surveyed were run by proprietors who have an immigrant background. And 73 percent of these owners employ staff in their kiosk.  

Proximity is important

The latest convenience study also shows that it takes half of all the interviewees an average of approximately only seven minutes to get to their kiosk on foot from home. Around 40 percent of all the interviewees are able to walk to their kiosk from their workplace in around seven minutes. 71 percent of the regular customers shopping at a kiosk have one in their immediate locality. These “regular customers” generally spend the most money when they shop at the kiosk. Only every fifth interviewee said that they knew of no kiosk in their local area. This means that kiosks are part of daily life – particularly in cities. They are part of the local scene, and people are pleased to see them as integral to their daily lives.  

The product range makes the difference

The product range varies depending on the position and size of kiosk. School kiosks sell different products to mini-shops located in stations, or a refreshment stand. Lots of kiosks are obviously very good at tailoring their product range to the needs of their customers. Only 33 percent of the consumers interviewed complained that they were unable to find products in the kiosk range which had hitherto been rarely or never on offer. 31 percent of this third of the customers still said that they would like to see more food items in their kiosk so that they could purchase some of their daily provisions in the mini-shop. 68 percent of all kiosks already offer fresh coffee and this means they are making use of the trend for coffee-to-go. However, only 21 percent of kiosks have been offering fresh products and snacks, for example fresh filled rolls. “An increasing number of consumers would like to see a convenience product range so that they are not restricted to making ‘emergency purchases’. They would also like to be able to buy supplies conveniently while they are on the move,” says Professor Möller.  

The cliché is confirmed: women love sweets

Although the genders have a relatively equal distribution as far as shopper structure is concerned, women and men buy very different products when they visit kiosks. This confirms a very popular cliché that women like to buy sweet snacks between meals: “Sweets and ice cream are at the top of the popularity scale for women,” according to Professor Möller, who headed the study, “whereas men more often tend to buy alcoholic drinks and tobacco goods at a kiosk.”  

But: some old preconceptions are refuted

The study dispels the widely held preconception that the unemployed and socially disadvantaged individuals tend to form the primary clientele at kiosks. 51 percent of the regular customers and occasional consumers have a full-time job, around 20 percent are apprentices, school children or students, and some 13 percent have part-time jobs. People looking for employment only make up three percent of regular kiosk customers. It is also striking that women spend less money on average at a kiosk. This preconception – that women generally spend more than men – has been refuted, at least when it comes to kiosk shopping. Incidentally, most customers purchase goods valued at less than five euros.  

Background information, data, etc.

A total of 140 kiosk operators were surveyed for the study in Berlin, Essen, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich during the course of January 2011. The survey looked into issues such as opening times, shop fittings in the kiosks, product range, main sales times and shopping habits. The consumer survey across the whole of Germany was carried out in cooperation with market research institute Research Now. A total of 500 German consumers aged from 14 to 65 years were interviewed and the samples were selected to represent the age and gender mix within the population. The content of the survey was associative and based on consumer behaviour in relation to the kiosk retail format. Two focus groups, each with eight people aged from 18 to 55 years from a range of different work and social backgrounds, were surveyed in a test studio of market research service Achim Weifenbach in Frankfurt/Main. The survey of experts interviewed individual specialists from companies relevant to the sector.  

Convenience at the EBS Business School: Chair and Competence Center

The Chair endowed by Lekkerland at the EBS Business School in Oestrich-Winkel is the first Chair for Convenience worldwide. Marketing expert Professor Sabine Möller holds the Chair and her main functions include academic research into developments and trends in the convenience market. The Competence Center for Convenience is also headed by Professor Möller. This acts as an interface between research and practice, and the centre itself published the study. The Advisory Board of the Competence Center includes experts from trade and industry. The EBS Business School is Germany’s oldest nationally accredited private university for business administration and ranks among the top five faculties for business administration in Germany.  

Brief profile of Lekkerland AG & Co. KG

Operating in nine European countries, Lekkerland supplies approximately 130,700 filling station shops, corner shops, convenience stores, fast-food chains, specialty tobacco shops, specialty beverage retailers, department stores, grocery stores/markets, bakeries, and cafeterias with a full range of confectionery, beverages, snacks, convenience items, ice cream, frozen foods, fresh products, tobacco products, phone cards and non-food items. The company generated turnover of 12.2 billion EUR in 2010.