College Campus C-Store Goes After Millennials


The Millennials, as a consumer group, are hard to please. From their shopping experiences, they want (and expect) it all—value for their dollars, high-quality products, authentic and honest store environments—and they want it fast. So when Atlanta-based Miller Zell partnered with Philadelphia-based Aramark’s Higher Education division to develop a new college campus c-store concept, they started by delving into research on the shopping habits of today’s college students.

“Our research told us that students were looking for fresh prepared foods and everyday essentials in one convenient location on campus,” says Mark Walker, associate vice president of convenience retailing, Aramark Higher Education. “Our goal was to develop a highly customized solution that delivers quality, convenience, variety and value.”

Ultimately, the research and project objectives culminated in the creation of a new campus c-store concept, dubbed Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.) Market. Name generation, brand identity, interior design and engineering for the project were completed in less than 16 weeks. Designed to meet the demands of students looking for fresh, healthy and grab-and-go dining options, P.O.D. reinvents the campus store experience by blending the quick convenience of a “corner store” with the style and service of a modern market. Piloted in fall 2008 on three campuses, including Brandeis University, University of Tennessee and The University of Toledo, additional P.O.D. locations are slated to roll out over the next three years, with plans to customize each store based on the specific needs of the campus community.

While P.O.D. stores vary in size—from 500 sq. ft. to 2,500 sq. ft.—the layouts are similar, anchored by four key destinations: “Fresh & Green” (fresh market and prepared foods); “Recharge” (hot bar, coffee and fountain); “Chillin” (chilled beverages and frozen foods); and “Sweet & Salty” (snacks and candy). A convenience check-out module is strategically placed to provide service and access to sundries, while the center of the space offers groceries and promotional items.

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