7-Eleven's 'Groundbreaking' New Strategy

Innovation designed to lure new customers

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. has a struggle, a key hurdle it is working hard to overcome: luring new customers. And piggybacking on its already successful "Concentrated Market Rollout," the convenience store chain is working on what it calls a "groundbreaking" new strategy to get past it.

"Customers who come in every day know the breadth of [our] assortment. … I would say they're very happy with what we're offering, they're loyal and keep coming back," Jesus Delgado-Jenkins told CSP Daily News. "Something we're struggling with is customers who don't know us yet, but when they come in, they say, 'I didn't know you have fresh food. You guys have carrots, celery sticks with ranch dressing? Chicken salad? I had no idea'."

To address this, the company introduced a strategy they call "CMR," or "Concentrated Market Rollout," in the summer of 2010. Previously, the company would reimage stores based on a store-by-store method, Delgado-Jenkins said. Now it takes an entire market and brings all stores up to the same platform, "so that all the stores will have hot foods, all the stores will have the new coffee bar program, all the stores will have been reimaged over the past three years."

Before CMR, there was an obvious problem: Stores had one or more of the updates but not all three. "So," Delgado-Jenkins said, "you had a mixed bag. If you were to advertise … there is an inconsistent set of platforms in the marketplace."

The company rolled out CMR in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic this past February and updated 1,000 stores by June. Conversions were followed with a summertime marketing blitz resulting in strong performance. Delgado-Jenkins said, "We've had a tremendous amount of learning, which we're going to apply in round two."

And the evolution continues. Delgado-Jenkins said the company has a new project that is going to be "groundbreaking." It's a concept "driven by the customer to more closely align the atmosphere they want to shop in with the product assortment we're offering. We're going to push the envelope."

While that concept has not been defined, some of the words he uses are "fresh, pleasant, colorful, bistro-like, good value, premium products, innovative products."

The goal, he says, is to debut the concept in two to three years based on piloting and consumer input. "We want to deny the past," he said. "We need to find new ways to apply our fundamental principles to give the consumer a newer, more colorful, more exciting experience."

7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto was honored as CSP's 2011 Retail Leader of the Year. Click here to read full coverage of DePinto's impact on the c-store chain and the October awarding of the honor.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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