A Compelling Story

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A Compelling Story

By Linda Lisanti, Convenience Store News - 11/09/2009
Last August, Convenience Store News gave readers a firsthand look at Quick Chek's new brand identity and modern store prototype in the article, "A Fresh Chek on Convenience." The retailer set out to tell customers exactly what Quick Chek is all about -- fresh food, fast service and great people -- and it's worked. CSNews recently checked in with the company, and found the response from customers is terrific.

Quick Chek's new brand identity and store prototype were designed to convey that it is "the leader in fresh convenience." Food has always been the retailer's focus, but company executives felt a new brand was needed to serve the chain well in the future.

The centerpiece of the brand identity was a new tagline, "Get Fresh. Go Fast," and a new logo that featured a bright, lime green-colored "Q" with the tail shaped like a dark green leaf, representing the company's commitment to delivering a quality assortment of fresh food products in an elevated foodservice experience.

In addition to prominently showcasing the new branding elements, Quick Chek's new store prototype -- unveiled last May -- aimed to elevate the look of the prepared food and coffee offering; better segregate the food/coffee area from the more-traditional superette offer; and continue to respond to customers' desire for more open and brighter stores. One of the biggest differences of the prototype vs. existing stores was a more cohesive flow, with the new stores compelling customers toward the foodservice offer.

Today, Quick Chek is achieving everything it hoped to and more. Stores with the new branding and design are very strong in foodservice. "When you look at our new branding, that was the intent and we certainly achieved that," John Schaninger, vice president of sales and marketing for the New Jersey-based chain, told CSNews.

"Our new brand identity and store design really tell the story of fresh, and we've heard that loud and clear from our customers. They love it," he added. "The stores are brighter, well lit, and we do re-merchandising, which opens them up, so it's a much friendlier experience."

Since the introduction last spring, the retailer made a few tweaks, such as slight changes in window dressings and building color. "We're always looking to improve. Every store we open, we take a hard look and say 'How can we improve on this?'" Schaninger said. "But the new stores are working out so well, there have been no major changes."

To date, Quick Chek has opened 11 new prototype stores, and the plan going forward is to build seven new locations each year. At the same time, the chain is proceeding with its rollback plan to reimage existing stores with the new branding inside and out.

"When we reimage, we completely redo the inside, and then the outside is mostly new signage and paint. We also re-merchandise the whole store; some of it could be simple things such as adjacencies and where products are laid out. We also look at whether there are any department upgrades [needed], such as in fountain or coffee," Schaninger explained.

When CSNews spoke to Quick Chek last year, the company was prioritizing stores based on their market, sales and current facilities. Schaninger said a schedule is now in place, and so far, between 30 and 40 stores have been reimaged. The retailer's plans still call for all 120 of its stores to sport the new design and brand identity by 2011.

Writing More Chapters
Quick Chek continues to find new ways to be "the leader in fresh convenience."

For instance, the chain -- in partnership with NCR Corp. -- started a pilot of self-checkout lanes Aug. 26, at its Phillipsburg, N.J., location. The store's standard checkout has two registers manned by team members, while the other four stations are set up as "Fast Lanes."

"Customers love us for our service, and this is just another way to improve. When we're rockin', even if we have three or four great cashiers on, you get lines. Fast Lane is another alternative to move the customer experience," said Schaninger, noting this is not meant to be a labor-saving initiative. "Actually, we think it will drive business and add hours."

The company is evaluating the test location before deciding whether or not to expand the service.

Outside its stores, Quick Chek is doing a lot more on the Internet, both through its own Web site and on social networking sites, including Facebook. As part of the new branding, the chain last year launched a redesigned Web site with new, interactive features.

"Our Web site is really growing, and so is our Facebook [presence]," Schaninger said. The enhanced look of the Web site is one driving factor, and the other is that the retailer is gaining a different audience online -- younger shoppers.

Whether it's in the stores or online, Quick Chek intends to continue marketing its brand message to existing and potential customers. "We're all about great-tasting food, value and good people, and we're going to continue to tell that story," he said.