2024 UCB National Conference: Darren Park discusses the changing convenience landscape

Darren Park, CEO of UCB, took the stage on the third day to discuss what challenges and opportunities lie ahead for convenience retail.

Over the course of his speech, Park spoke about how many things will change but also how many things will remain consistent with fine tuning.

“The world will always continue to eat, sleep, breathe, and be mobile. That’s pretty much a constant and positions you all in a business with a very strong foundation.”

Park discussed the role EV has in our future as well as internal combustion engines (ICE) and explained that there is still a role for all tools to play for a long time yet.

“We’re starting to see positive investment back into oil and gas, and large companies worldwide start to pull back on investment, with a lot of that being driven by investors asking questions on current and future profits. Political commentators are starting to question the stranglehold that China has on commodities and technologies that are required to build EVs.”

Through research conducted by UCB, Park highlighted the importance of fuel and that through face-to-face interviews, they discovered that close to 70 per cent of all transactions were fuel only, 25 per cent fuel and shop, and eight per cent shop only.

“It shows there is an opportunity to drive sales. In most cases, you’ll know your sites better than me. But as a rule of thumb, we don’t have a problem attracting customers, we have a conversion opportunity that presents itself to us every day. Let’s talk about one aspect that is highly controllable, and that is executing promotions.

“When shoppers transact in-store, they’re engaged. Forty-two per cent of shoppers who purchased, bought more than planned. When quizzed, 89 per cent of people who bought more stated it was in-store where they were influenced by a promotion or promotions.”

Park explained that the human senses of sight, smell, touch, and taste are key triggers for consumers and it is the retailers job to feed those senses.

“Remember, it’s not about being cheap, or the cheapest. That’s not what it’s all about. It’s about the consumer looking and saying this is value. This feeds their emotions. Everybody likes value.”

Looking at aisle interrupters and queueing systems, Park believes these tools are massively underutilised in Australia, giving examples of overseas aisle interrupters giving gross numbers of between seven and 12 per cent.

Park then spoke about the research that UCB has been conducting that has seen impressive results, including UCB averaging 20 per cent growth last year, which was above the industry average.

“We spend a lot of time and effort watching supermarket consumers and how they shop. The ticketing was clean, simple, and bright. We adopted similar principles. Less writing, clear pricing, and clear communication.

“Play on the consumer conditioning done by the big supermarkets, spending millions of dollars on research on what consumers want over many years. When consumers come to your store, the ticketing already screams value. Why? Because they’re so used to seeing that yellow POS every time they enter a supermarket, their brains are instantly triggered to value proposition.

“Over the next few years, we’ll continue collecting data from a number of our members, which will allow us to track your changes and quantify the changes we make, the promotions we run, and how the weather around the country affects sales.”

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