At Shout & Stack, owner Chris Carter uses price
promotions to avoid neck-to-neck competition.
Promos are so strategic that, unlike with other retailers, soft drink sales have not declined in recent
years. “I work at it. If they have Coke on sale, I’ll
put out Pepsi or Dr Pepper. If the major chains are
selling a 30-pack of Bud cans for $20.99, I’ll promote
something nobody else has on sale like Rolling Rock.
Or, maybe bottles vs. cans.”
With beer, most multi-unit sales involve a 12-pack
or something smaller. This is because almost 80% of
beer purchased at convenience stores is consumed
within two hours, said John Knapp, director of customer solutions at MillerCoors. Suitcases, however,
are more commonly purchased for “stock up” purposes in a supermarket or mass retailer.
Single-serve beverages require different promotional treatment than packaged ones. Sixteen- and
24-ounce singles, which represent 55% of beer sales,
are frequently purchased in two’s, particularly by
customers seeking portion control, Knapp said.
In addition to promoting various products, retailers
can further differentiate by promoting different
beverages during various dayparts. “At breakfast,
promos on coffee and energy drinks are effective,”
said Watson. “At lunch, energy and CSDs provide
great ROI. Starting at rush hour and through late
night, beer provides the most lift. Tactics can help
maximize lift all day.”
Coupons and Holidays
While big in mass and and grocery, price promotion
strategies around coupons or holidays are not huge
in convenience stores. Yet Crawford believes there
is a “big opportunity” for c-stores to capitalize on
holiday themes. And vendors have plenty to offer.
“There’s all kinds of displays you can get for holidays.”
The home entertainment nature of holidays can
increase sales of multi-packs. “Whether it’s beer or
another category, people are purchasing products
to share. That means there’s an opportunity to grow
baskets with multi-unit promotions and brands that
reach the most shoppers,” Crawford said.
Carter is among the few operators who uses coupon promotions. While there are a good number of
coupons available to c-stores, he believes they are
underutilized. He offers coupons in the store, in
newspapers, on Facebook and on his webpage.
“For many years, people have associated coupons
with grocery stores. Are they a little work? Yeah. But
they increase sales. A 20-pack of Coke is $5.99, $4.99
with the coupon. Dr Pepper and Coke usually have
existing promos that retailers can get.”
The Big Ones
By partnering with Anheuser-Busch, Coke and other
large supplies, retailers can benefit from vendors’
multi-pronged, multi-media campaigns. “A company
like Anheuser-Busch can drive awareness through
multiple forms of media,” Watson said. “Many are
connected to major marketing programs.”
The in-store parts of these campaigns often involve
case stackers, suction cups and other items that
Most people have never heard of Vinita, Oklahoma. Nor are they acquainted with Shout & Sack, a
single location that often doubles as the small town’s general store, attracting every demographic.
But almost everyone knows about Route 66, where the retailer is located, a fact of which owner
Chris Carter takes full advantage.
Shout & Sack’s refillable coffee cups feature the Route 66 logo, his funky chicken motif and brief
information about the store. The mugs are a popular souvenir, and designs are updated regularly.
But most retailers are not lucky enough to be located on a historic highway. To move mugs
and refills, cups often must be tied to loyalty or other programs. Hence, they become promotional
vehicles, moving them beyond the realm of limited, add-on sales.
“Historically, most retailers simply offered travel mugs and provided an everyday discount on
refills,” said Jacqui Cintron, vice president of marketing at Whirley-Drink Works!, maker of custom
beverage vessels. “But over the past few years, the trend has been to include the refill mug as part
of an integrated marketing program to achieve beverage category objectives. When well executed,
a limited time offer mug program can drive loyalty and visits through value pricing and unique
products or increase foodservice trial and market basket through coupons or online offers.”
Mugs also help c-stores differentiate promotions from those offered by QSRs and fast casual
restaurants, which often do not do refills. Cintron noted that the high percentage of customers who
frequent drive-thrus would make offering refill mugs difficult.
In Their Cups