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11 More Big Ideas from CRU 2016

The greening of the pump, when suppliers merge, optimizing store design and more

DALLAS -- With all of CSP’s Convenience Retailing University 2016 behind us, the insights revealed during the conference add up to a treasure trove of inspiration.

Drayton McLane

Here are 11 more trends and ideas to put to work in your business.

1. The Greening of the Pump

Consumers who pump Alon-branded fuel can also help plant a tree. The Dallas-based 7-Eleven licensee, Alon Brands, is expaning after an initial test with Atlanta-based GreenPrint to give customers a "sustainable" option at the pump: The Strive Reduced Emission Fuel Program is intended to reduce tailpipe emissions, and it plants trees in the local community.

2. What Kraft Heinz Means

Retailers wondering what the merger of two major food and beverage brands means, Kathleen Byrd, director of c-store foodservice for the recently merged Kraft Heinz Co., said the companies have integrated their sales forces, and soon they’ll be consolidating their trucks to deliver products from both brands.

3. Three Questions to Optimize Store Design

From VideoMining founder and chairman Rajeev Sharma:

  1. Does the layout revolve around key merchandising destinations?
  2. Does the layout provide a better flow of traffic? Are there areas of congestion?
  3. Does it help to build basket size?

4. Five Truths About Beer Drinkers

From Boston Beer Co.’s national channel manager Joseph Kaczynski.

Beer drinkers:

  • shop by brand
  • use lead brands to identify category segments (Samuel Adams for craft beers, for example)
  • adjust their purchase based on occasion
  • have a favorite beer or beers, but tend to seek variety and experiment
  • can be traded up

5. The Road Less Traveled

Younger consumers—millennials and Gen Z—don’t have the same kind of passion around cars and driving that older generations did. They question whether they even need a car, and if they do, they have no qualms about alternative fuels. At the Driver of 2035 breakout session, Fuels Institute director of operations Donovan Woods said that in 1983, 92% of people aged 20 to 24 had drivers licenses, but today, only about 77% do. Couple that with the prediction that registered vehicles will be 55% more efficient in 2035 than they were in 2015, and you see the need to rely less on fuel sales in the future. Optimistic, Woods reminded attendees that they sell convenience first rather than fuel or other goods, and if they paid attention to their consumers, they should be able to roll with those changes in driving and fuel consumption.

6. 90% Inspiration
Drayton McLane on leadership: You have to be around people who inspire and challenge you. I've always had two or three mentors who are not related to me and work outside the industry; you go to them and they'll tell you the truth.


Loyalty programs need to evolve, according to Thom Blischok of Strategy&. About 75% of the CEOs he has spoken to about loyalty programs say they instead should be called “bribery programs.” They feel as if customers buy one and expect to get 500 free.

8. Wine is Finer

One of the fastest-growing subcategories in convenience stores is wine, according to Don Burke, senior vice president of Management Science Associates Inc., Pittsburgh. Sales are up 12% in MSA data's most recent 13 weeks vs. a year ago. The “sweet spot” for wine prices in c-stores is $8 to $12, but Burke has seen wine bottles going for $24.99 successfully. And the average basket ring for purchases with wine is $18.62. Are you taking advantage of this opportunity?

9. Intercontinental Shift

If the Information Age ended in 2005, as futurist and author David Houle suggested during a CRU general session presentation, where does that put us today? Houle calls it the Shift Age, in which the forces of change are: a flow to global, the flow to individual, and accelerating communication. “You now operate where there is no time, distance or place limiting communication,” he said. One aspect of this new “age” will be a continued move toward driverless cars. “Think about what that might mean to your industry,” he said.

10. Managing Big Data

Wal-Mart’s big-data project, Walmart Exchange (WMX), is a retail technology to watch, according to Jason Lobel, founder and CEO, SwiftIQ, Chicago. Lobel said the new launch promises to turn purchasing data into useful marketing and advertising tools, ultimately resulting in more relevant offers to customers.

11. A Major Thank You

Finally, a big thank you to 7-Eleven Inc. and Argo Tea for your generous donations to the CARRE Foundation’s CRU 2016 charity Folds of honor! 7-Eleven donated $10,000, and Argo Tea donated $5,000, challenging other attending business to do the same.

Follow CRU 2016 at #ConvenienceRetailing.

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