Capping the Big Gulp

7-Eleven to introduce private-label soft-drink line

DALLAS -- A day after 7-Eleven celebrated the 40th anniversary of its Slurpee frozen carbonated beverage, the convenience store giant had something new to crow about yesterdaya private-label line of soft drinks under the Big Gulp label. And just as with Slurpee, the goal of the line is to bring some fun to a stalwart category.

The strategy for the brand and the product is to introduce the consumer to a unique, high-quality product in flavors that are fun and exciting, Jack Wilkie, vice president of franchisees and corporate communications for Dallas-based 7[image-nocss] -Eleven Inc., told CSP Daily News. We can have as much fun with Big Gulp as we can with Slurpee flavors because it's a proprietary brand.

The fun will begin later this month when the initial line rolls out to 7-Eleven stores nationwide in four SKUs of 20-oz. bottles. The initial four flavors, developed with Leading Edge Brands, Temple, Texas, are Diet Cola with Splenda, Cola with pure cane sugar, Mint Lime Twist and Ginger Apple Snap.

It's tested extremely well with focus groups, said Wilkie. We noticed that the growth in carbonated soft drinks across all [retail channels] has been a little flat, and so this introduction is intended to bring a little excitement to the category and leverage a brand that's been known to 7-Eleven consumers for over 30 years.

The company also went the extra mile to make the actual bottle different as well, according to Wilkie. What's unique about the packaging is that we're doing a proprietary 20-oz. bottle, he said. It's the only 20-oz. bottle to have a wide mouth. It's Big Gulp Soda with a big, wide mouth so you can take a big gulp'.

Wilkie said 7-Eleven will watch the sales of the single-serve beverages, which will be positioned in the cooler with similar products, before making any additions to the line; however, additional flavors and a 2-liter bottle are said to be on the drawing board.