Warm and Fuzzy and Sophisticated

Mitch Morrison, Vice President of Retailer Relations

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One’s a cute, disheveled fur ball with overarching eyes and diminutive disposition. The other is matted and manicured, with a trustworthy smile. Behind them is the frontman, an industry statesman with a polite mien and yen for fine wines and down-to-earth conversation.

It could very well be a scene from the holiday smash “The Muppets,” with Dennis Folden— Kum & Go’s No. 2 man—playing Jason Segel and flanked by his furry compatriots, Warm and Fuzzy. (See p. 128 for a closer look.)

In case you don’t follow industry folks on Facebook, the three fronted a recent fundraiser for the West Des Moines, Iowabased operator. And the critters carried the day, helping to raise $160,000 for Toys for Tots.

The narrative penetrates much deeper, though, down to brilliant branding. Behind Warm and Fuzzy’s rollout is a multibilliondollar retailer with more than 400 stores across 11 states and a commitment to tithing its profits.

As honorable as the campaign was in benefiting thousands of needy children, Warm and Fuzzy tapped into several components critical to furthering an enterprising c-store chain:

  • Product: Warm and Fuzzy were transformed into characters with personalities and a story behind them. (See www. kumandgo.com/about-warm-and-fuzzy.cfm). More important, they were tied to the retailer’s Java Ridge coffee. For every purchase of a 20- or 24-ounce cup of joe, Kum & Go donated 10 cents to Toys for Tots. The appeal raised funds and spiked coffee sales without Kum & Go compromising on its retail price.
  • Consumer: Much research continues to center around millennials. Some of the characteristics of this 18- to 29-year-old generation suggest they are a blend of the socially conscious ’60s generation and the ’80s me generation. Put another way, their DNA is a composite of mom and dad, and grandma and grandpa. This campaign touches their social consciousness and personalizes the message through customized social media and targeted marketing.
  • Branding: A big question confronting many operators is how to differentiate their businesses. On-the-go products are basically commodities, available at drug stores, dollar chains and convenience. Warm and Fuzzy not only are exclusively aligned with Kum & Go, but they also reinforce a critical brand image that Kum & Go is you friendly family store. Subtle to the customer, essential to the operator.

After reading senior editor Samantha Oller’s cover feature (p. 58), we hope you will appreciate why we selected Kum & Go as our chain to watch in 2012. A stable industry icon, the company continues to evolve under a second generation of Krause leadership. Committed to its founding values, today’s Kum & Go retains much of the muscle built by co-founder Bill Krause yet has found new fortification heralded by his son, Kyle. Today’s new stores move from functional to experiential; the offerings are much more sophisticated, and the company’s embrace of green technologies and social media are worthy of emulation.

There are few chains in the c-store arena that can match Kum & Go on data use, consumer research, creative marketing, environmental responsibility and customer entertainment.

Congrats to Kyle and the Kum & Go team.

I rarely boast about our editorial team at CSP. But I must share with you how proud I am, especially of this January issue. (Please do not tell them I am writing this.)

Check out our redesigned Headliners section starting on p. 15, spearheaded by Jennifer Bulat on content and designed by Abbey Lewis and Jerimiah Brown. We continue to strive to make our magazine more entertaining, informative and interactive.

But as much as we hope to engage you, we fail to meet our responsibility if we do not offer authoritative copy that enables you to make better decisions and grow your business. On this point, I strongly recommend you read Abbie Westra’s brilliant story on food packaging (p. 97) and Angel Abcede’s intelligible analysis on item-level-inventory (p. 77). These are wonky pieces that, through outstanding efforts by our editors, are enlightening reads that will help advance your foodservice and IT programs.

Lastly, if you don’t believe independent retailers can blaze a trail, think again when you look at Bob Barman’s first-person account concerning his new geothermal ExtraMile in our popular Grand Opening feature (p. 68).

And finally, please accept my best wishes for a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2012. Happy New Year. 

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