Brand Exclusivity Growing in the Convenience Channel
CHICAGO — Brand exclusivity is no new tactic for the convenience channel, but the strategy is growing.
"Providing exclusive products and experiences is even more important today as the lines that were historically clear between traditional channels are now completely blurred," said Marissa Jarratt, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at 7-Eleven Inc. "Convenience and value are table stakes across retail — grocery, drug, dollar, c-store, e-commerce, mass — and so exclusives are a way for retailers to differentiate their offering and position themselves as a destination for shoppers."
According to Path to Purchase Trends 2020 survey from Convenience Store News sister brand the Path to Purchase Institute (P2PI), brand exclusivity is a strategic tactic to gain greater attention from retailers, who typically are more inclined to provide promotional prominence to exclusive brands.
One explanation for what seems to have been a recent surge in exclusive brands and products is a change in shopping behavior.
"More and more consumers — led by millennials and Gen Z — are looking for experiences and not just 'stuff to buy,'" suggested Jarratt. "Discovery and FOMO [fear of missing out] are key drivers for this behavior. One way for retailers to provide experiences is through exclusive items that are only available for a limited time at a particular store, and which have a different ‘story’ that makes the product or service more interesting than it might typically be."
With the number of exclusive relationships seems to be growing, exclusivity may not be any more beneficial now than it was 10 years ago, according to Christopher Brace, founder and CEO of Syntegrate Consulting.
"The strategic benefits remain the same, as far as I can see," he said.
The arrangements can take various forms, including:
- Exclusive brand/product, limited time;
- Exclusive product, permanent; and
- Exclusive brand, permanent.
For example, when brands partner on exclusives with 7-Eleven, they tap into the retailer's massive scale of the 7-Eleven system, gaining the opportunity to drive awareness across more than 9,000 U.S. stores and 10 million-plus transactions per day, according to Jarratt.
"Providing exclusive experiences to our customers builds consideration and equity for the brand relative to competitors," she noted. "Depending on the product, it provides additional 'surprise and delight' for our customers, especially [the regulars] who visit us multiple times per week."
The retailer also encourages its manufacturing and vendor partners to provide a point of differentiation vs. the competition.
"It's a collaboration with manufacturers that starts during the joint business planning process the year before, where we share and align on strategic priorities and initiatives we want to work on together to build a win-win partnership," said Jawad Bisbis, vice president, proprietary beverages, 7-Eleven.
For more insights from P2PI's Path to Purchase Trends 2020 survey, click here.
Convenience Store News and P2PI are properties of EnsembleIQ.