CHICAGO — Releasing items as limited-time offerings (LTOs) has become a common way to test new food and beverage items in convenience stores. But with consumers seeking innovative offerings now more than ever, operators must be strategic about the type of LTO they release.
To help operators jump this hurdle, CSP’s sister research firm, Technomic, has identified four types of marketable LTOs, ranging from mass-market products to items attractive to lucrative niche audiences.
Here are the four types of LTOs c-store operators can use to boost their foodservice programs …
Broad-appeal LTOs aim to engage core guests, according to Technomic. These are often for products that regular guests are familiar with but with a new spin or twist. A recent example of a broad-appeal LTO was in July 2019, when convenience-store retailer Stewart’s Shops Corp.renamed its Brew-Ha-Ha ice cream flavor to SLU-Ha-Ha as part of a summer promotion with St. Lawrence University, the alma mater of Stewart’s Shops President Gary Dake. The promotion runs until the end of October.
Some LTOs are centered around new flavors or diets. Known as “niche item” LTOs, these offerings aim to drive new traffic, according to Technomic. An example of this type of LTO was Casey’s General Stores’ Italian Trio Pizza, which ran in May 2018. The concoction—which featured an assortment of cold cuts such as pepperoni, hard salami and capicola—looked to target consumers looking for Mediterranean-based flavors, the chain said at the time.
Other LTOs are so unique and unheard of—also known as novelty LTOs—that they draw consumers’ attention. In June 2019, convenience-store retailer Kwik Trip Inc. debuted Glazers Chips—potato chips that mimic its Glazers Donuts—in all of its 642 stores in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The sweet-flavored chips were available for a limited time, while supplies lasted, the company said at the time of the launch.
Best in class
Best-in-class LTOs capitalize on industry-leading products to attract core guests and new customers, according to Technomic. 7-Eleven’s annual 7-Eleven Free Slurpee Day is an example of this type of promotion. This year, for instance, the chain offered small Blueberry Lemonade Slurpees and sugar-free Cherry Limeade Slurpees for free on July 11. Beyond that, 7-Eleven also offered fresh bakery items, hot dogs, pizza slices and other hot foods for $1. Nashville hot chicken tenders were also available for an additional $1 to 7Rewards members through the 7-Eleven mobile app.