7-Eleven Trade-Show Trends

Franchisees review bevy of new products at Chicago event

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

VILLA PARK, Ill. -- Sure, it's up to the franchisees to actually bring them into their stores, but if the 7-Eleven-approved vendors showing their wares at the recent 7-Eleven Franchise Owners Association of Chicagoland Trade Show demonstrate anything, it's that the convenience store giant is betting big on coconut water, high-end beer and healthy snacks and packaged foods.

During the trade show, held Friday in Villa Park, Ill., four of five brands of coconut water were evident, some from well-known vendors such as Rockstar and Arizona and others from small manufacturers just finding their way into retail.

Similarly, the high-end beer segment was represented by new-product releases from stalwart vendors, including a variety pack of Mexican brews from Heineken and Anheuser-Busch's Michelob Ultra line extensions, as well as small brewers, including Milwaukee Brewing Co. and Central Waters Brewing Co., among others.

The healthy-snacking trend was covered by such product additions as Nature's Habit's varieties of trail mix, Quaker's new Real Medleys line of on-the-go oatmeal and Odwalla Juice, now packaged in 12-ounce bottles for single-serve convenience.

Meanwhile, during a lunch-hour general session, FOAC president Joe Rossi, the board of directors and, subsequently, the entire collection of about 200 franchisees and vendors avowed dedication to open communication and teamwork.

"We speak for you [the franchisees]," Rossi said. "We [the board of directors] are 100% unified in every decision we make. Please stand with us if you too are unified with us." Most everyone in attendance did.

The display of unanimity followed brief presentations from several vendor sponsors of the trade show and a representative of Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, to which the association had donated more than $100,000 to help fund construction of a new facility.

After a relatively slow morning on the trade-show floor, the general session seemed to energize the attendees, keeping the 127 vendor booths busy for the afternoon.

Click here to see some of the new products available to 7-Eleven FOAC members at the trade show.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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