A common question from others when traveling is, “Where are you from?” Many cultural differences can elicit this question, from wearing nice shoes instead of flip-flops out to dinner in Tampa to asking for a “pop” in Mississippi. Even though we all live in the same country, every region has its own culture and quirks. Knowing and embracing regional distinctiveness is the difference between being viewed as a local or a tourist.
When it comes to the cold vault, the same idea is true. Particularly in carbonated soft drinks, every region of the country has its own traditional beverages. These are the brands that may not be found anywhere else but that have been a part of the history of the region in which they are found. In addition, they are normally among the top sellers in their regions.
A good example of this is Vernors Ginger Ale. Created in 1866 by James Vernor, Vernors has been a Michigan favorite for more than 150 years and, according to IRI, is the fourth-largest soft drink brand in Detroit, for the 52 weeks ending 9-10-2017. Even large national brands such as Dr Pepper and A&W have their roots planted in Texas and California, respectively, where they enjoy rabid “hometown” support alongside other regional favorites such as Big Red and Cactus Cooler. Consumers in the Carolinas are partial to Sun Drop, and in Tennessee, it’s RC Cola. But these are just a few examples; every part of the country has its own unique, favorite brands.
While most c-store category managers likely take local and regional preferences into consideration already, in the hectic process of creating planograms, it is a step that can be overlooked. Usual placement of regional favorites might seem like a no-brainer—maybe they’re pushed to the margins because a customer who wants a Vernors is always going to search for it. But reconsidering the usual SKUs is likely worth the effort. Keeping regional favorites in a visual sweet spot or giving them more facings could increase sales to out-of-towners who otherwise wouldn’t even notice them.
“When in Rome” is one of the best parts of travel. But more important, giving those regional favorites a degree of priority on your shelves and in your vault could enhance a local customer’s perceptions of a particular c-store and, in turn, their loyalty. It could be the difference that makes a vault a “local” and not a “tourist.”
This post is sponsored by Keurig Dr Pepper