7-Eleven Revamps Coffee to Attract Millennials

Since 1964, when one of its franchisees first created grab-and-go coffee, 7-Eleven Inc. has always offered its No. 1-selling proprietary beverage in glass pots. This year, however, that is about to change.

After more than a year and a half of research and development, the Dallas-based convenience store giant is testing a new way to deliver, present and market coffee in its stores, as it attempts to attract younger consumers.

The revamp includes:

Switching from glass pots to urns;

A new coffee bar with a modernized look and more functional layout;

Redesigned cups and coffee branding; and,

Promotions aimed at the younger demographic.

"Coffee is an integral part of our business," said Jay Wilkins, category manager for hot beverages. "We know we have a relatively good coffee business, but we also know we want to continue to message to and target that younger customer — the Millennials, 20- to 35-year-olds. We want to attract new people to our stores, while also making sure we're completely respectful to our customers today."

Company research showed coffee elements that resonate well with Millennials is different from 7-Eleven's existing customers — mostly males, aged in their 30s and 40s. Wilkins told CSNews the decision was made to replace its long-standing glass pots with urns because younger customers recognize urns as "a freshness cue."

Meanwhile, following 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto's February appearance on CBS' "Undercover Boss," in which he worked incognito, franchisees contacted by CSNews had an enthusiastic response to the program.

Joe Rossi, president of the Franchise Owners Association of Chicagoland, said: "People got a feel for how hard all of the employees work."

Mike Triantafellou, president and CEO of Gibsonia, Pa.-based Handee Marts Inc., a 7-Eleven licensee for 41 years, thought DePinto's appearance was not for publicity, but "based on a true desire to experience a small part of what our franchisees and employees live through daily, and to take those learnings back to Dallas to further improve an already outstanding organization."
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