Call it lightning in a bottle: unique occasions, such as August’s solar eclipse, that create brand-new consumer needs free of engrained purchasing habits. Right before the event, millions of Americans were suddenly trying to figure out where to buy special glasses. Planning way ahead, Twice Daily Convenience Stores jumped on the solar-eclipse opportunity all the way back in 2016 with a special partnership, exclusive offers and social media to boost traffic and buzz.
Here's how it all came together ...
Twice Daily, a 47-store chain based in Nashville, celebrated August’s solar eclipse with a viewing party at its Cadiz, Ky., store, which sat along the path of totality. Preparation began in late 2016, when Nashville-based Adventure Science Center approached the chain about distributing eclipse viewing glasses at all 47 stores, says Anessia Griffin, marketing manager for Tri Star Energy LLC, which operates Twice Daily. Griffin advertised the free glasses via social media, radio ads and video at the pumps.
The good news: With reports of bogus viewing glasses running rampant, Twice Daily ran out of its certified glasses much faster than anticipated. The bad news: Attendance at the viewing party was lower than expected.
With the help of some special merchandising, the Cadiz store registered a 10% inside sales boost during a four-day stretch leading up to and including Aug. 21. Rockstar Energy Drink gave out free samples of new Blackout Rockstar, while the store raffled off a bike and offered a meal deal of two hot dogs, a drink and chips for $5. Commemorative T-shirts ($15 each) and glow-in-the-dark cups ($2) were embossed with a custom logo and the date. The store sold 250 cups and 150 shirts.
Ultimately, Griffin wishes the store had begun selling the shirts and cups sooner. “People were more interested in purchasing memorabilia than buying meal deals,” she says.
Avoid out-of-stocks and overages
Twice Daily was careful to communicate to vendors that this event was unprecedented, with no previous roadmap, Griffin says. Thus, DSD replenishment of merchandise was a different animal. Placing urgency on reorders was essential, especially considering the T-shirts sold out so quickly, she says. “People really desire memorabilia for these types of events, so make sure you have a pipeline to quick reordering,” Griffin says. “And people want them before the event but not after.”