7-Eleven Innovates to Redefine the Shopper Experience

EVP Marissa Jarratt details how the convenience retailer leverages consumer data at NRF 2024: Retail's Big Show.
Melissa Kress
Executive Editor
A 7-Eleven convenience store with a Laredo Taco Co.

NEW YORK — Nearly 100 years after giving rise to the convenience store industry, 7-Eleven Inc. continues to be on the forefront of the channel, driven by its ability to tap into the wants and needs of the ever-changing consumer.

The Irving, Texas-based retail chain has a network of 13,000-plus convenience stores across multiple banners in North America and serves more than 12 million customers daily, according to Marissa Jarratt, executive vice president, chief marketing and sustainability officer at 7-Eleven.

Speaking at NRF 2024: Retail's Big Show on Jan. 14, Jarratt sat down with Lauren Wiener, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, to talk about the retailer's ability to leverage customer data to create a better shopper experience and transform the company. Key to this is ICE: Immediate Consumption Ecosystem.

As Jarratt explained, ICE is composed of three elements: 

  1. Data insights and measurement tools
  2. Awareness, trial and conversion
  3. Inspiration, amplification and customer engagement

Breaking it down further, she explained that the first element is made up of three tools: C Shopper, a data insights and analytics platform that leverages purchase and shopper behavior; Brain Freeze Collective, 7-Eleven's proprietary consumer research tool comprised of more than 250,000 loyalty members through which the retailer conducts quantitative and qualitative research at scale and efficiently; and the 7-Eleven Lab Stores, where it tests "real products with real customers to assess their real actual behaviors." 

7-Eleven Inc. By the Numbers

  • 13,000 convenience stores in North America
  • Located in 47 of the top 50 demographic market areas in the United States
  • 50% of U.S. households are within two miles of a 7-Eleven store
  • 90 million-plus registered loyalty members
  • A Top 50 Gen Z brand

Media Outreach

Crucial to 7-Eleven's mission to create a better customer experience is the Gulp Media Network. Launched in October 2022, Gulp Media  is designed to leverage 7-Eleven's customer data, which is 90 million loyalty members strong, Jarratt explained, or approximately one in four Americans. 

"I think it's important for everyone to understand that we've built these tools so that we can leverage them internally to drive our business and to create a great customer experience," she said, adding that the retailer started the conversation by talking about Slurpee and Big Gulp. "What's so cool being in this job is when I speak with people, almost everyone has a story about 7-Eleven, a great memory or a great experience, and that's indicative of the brand, of the equity of the brand and of the emotion that customers have with that brand."

Gulp Media is an opportunity to influence the shopper at the point of purchase. 

"We thought it was important that our offering, whatever it is, reflect that brand equity and that brand personality. Our loyalty members, our most loyal members, are shopping our stores more than once a day. That is a high degree of engagement and connection and commitment to the brand," she said. "So, we want to make sure that our offering has all of the functional attributes and benefits, if you want to think about it that way, of what you would expect in a retail media network, but that it also communicates more than that. It communicates the power and the potential of the brand, and it reflects the connectivity that our customers have with this brand."

With Gulp Media live across its network for more than a year, 7-Eleven is now working on its next innovation: in-store radio. Gulp Radio is in approximately 2,000 stores currently. The chain plans to scale it across all its U.S. stores this year. 

When fully rolled out, Gulp Radio will be the largest radio network in the United States, Jarratt noted. 

NRF 2024: Retail's Big Show, the National Retail Federation's annual show, took place Jan. 13-16 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. 

About the Author

Melissa Kress

Melissa Kress is Executive Editor of Convenience Store News. She joined the brand in 2010. Melissa handles much of CSNews’ hard news coverage, such as mergers and acquisitions and company financial reports, and the technology beat. She is also one of the industry’s leading media experts on the tobacco category.

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