NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store suppliers are a major part of capturing consumer interest. Convenience Store News will regularly highlight such efforts in this roundup.
Here are the latest supplier spotlights:
Alto-Shaam won the Extraordinary Service Award at the inaugural FEDA Gold Awards in recognition of its exceptional customer service, with dedication to operators, dealers and distributors at every touchpoint.
"We are truly honored and humbled to be the first manufacturer recognized for extraordinary service through FEDA's new Gold Awards," said Steve Maahs, Alto-Shaam president and chief operating officer. "People are our priority, and we strive to exceed expectations in every interaction. For us, this means always living our values of highest quality, family, innovation, value, education and service."
Alto-Shaam offers robust educational programming to support and serve customers and partners, including on-site consultations, custom employee training and support, and hands-on learning events for customers, among other initiatives.
Retail technology solutions provider Aptos entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Revionics, provider of science-based pricing, promotion and competitive insight for innovative global retailers. The acquisition was expected to close in September.
Revionics' cloud-based price optimization solutions feature advanced AI and machine learning capabilities, and will serve as an extension to Aptos' Merchandise Lifecycle Management suite. This will enable retailers to optimize every aspect of the product lifecycle.
"Retailers across all segments are experiencing heightened pressure to deliver greater merchandise variety, personalized promotions and experiences, and prices that resonate with shoppers," said Noel Goggin, Aptos CEO and culture leader. "The only way to meet customers' expectations while maximizing revenue, margin growth and customer lifetime value is to integrate all stages of the merchandise planning cycle, including price optimization. Revionics' proven price optimization solutions are a strong complement to Aptos' end-to-end retail planning platform. We have tremendous optimism about what the combination of our organizations will mean for our customers and their ability to win in the marketplace."
Upon close of the deal, Aptos' and Revionics' blended customer base will include more than 1,000 retail brands in 65 countries.
Chester's Chicken launched a new website as the first glimpse of its rebranding efforts. It features a simplified corporate logo, all new food photography and nutritional information, and a new domain, www.chesterschicken.com. The password-protected back end of the site hosts an enhanced library of marketing and training tools for franchisees.
The new site is designed to drive consumer awareness of Chester's great tasting products while also serving as a lead generation source for potential franchisees.
"We believe this is the perfect time in our company's history to provide our loyal Chester's Chicken customers with a new website to enhance their guest experience," said William Culpepper, vice president of marketing at Chester's Chicken. "Our new website represents the leading edge of many exciting changes for the Chester's brand, and we are dedicated to building a first class QSR concept for fried chicken fans and our franchisee community."
As part of the brand refresh, Chester's Chicken will continue to enhance its product portfolio and elevate the in-store experience, with more announcements coming later in 2020 and in 2021.
DRB, provider of software and hardware innovations to the car wash industry, announced Beacon Mobile LLC is now a DRB Certified Interface. This new integration allows critical information to flow between Beacon Mobile's customized car wash mobile applications and DRB In-Bay Solutions' Unitec brand of pay stations.
With the DRB Certified Interface, Beacon Mobile can develop mobile apps for in-bay automatic car washes that utilize Unitec pay stations. Customers will be able to make purchases from the app and then redeem them by scanning a code at the pay station.
"We're excited to work with Beacon Mobile to provide this important capability to in-bay automatic car wash operators," said Dan Pittman, president and CEO of DRB. "Our purpose is to help car wash operators grow and get the most out of their assets. Mobile apps provide a new path to increased profitability and customer satisfaction."
Utilizing a mobile app with a DRB Certified Interface allows in-bay automatic car wash operators to facilitate contactless car wash transactions, enhance customer convenience and offer loyalty options.
Butterfinger candy brand is introducing the Butterfinger Investigators (BFI) in a new video series chronicling the antics of Butterfinger-swiping criminals. The BFI will appear in 15- and 30-second ad spots as well as a longform YouTube webisode.
"We're thrilled to introduce the world to the BFI," said Silvia Borla, vice president of marketing for Ferrero Chocolate Brands. "We've all given in to the temptation to steal a Butterfinger or two. With these new characters solving hilarious but relatable 'crimes,' we're sure to entertain our fans and show why Butterfinger is so unique and irresistible to everyone."
From Sept. 14-Nov. 6, Butterfinger fans can visit the BFI headquarters at ButterfingerCaseFiles.com and enter a $25,000 sweepstakes by signing a digital "confession" for agents Hugh Dunnit and Ali Byes and sharing it across Facebook and Twitter channels for additional chances to win.
GetUpside launched a $25 million marketing campaign designed to help its more than 20,000 participating sites replace incremental gallons lost during the unprecedented decline in fuel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It consists of expanded paid marketing in more than 50 markets, peer-to-peer referrals and new partnerships, with the goal of doubling the number of GetUpside app users.
"Given the current fuel demand environment, we don't know if or when volume will return," said Alex Kinnier, co-founder and CEO. "That's why the timing is right for us to get ahead of the issue by investing in growth and improving exposure for participating locations with marketing spend. We believe this campaign will help participating merchants weather the COVID storm by consolidating the remaining customer fuel demand and directing it towards participating stations."
Suppliers such as BP, Motiva, Valero and Phillips 66 currently use the GetUpside network to counter downward trends in the market and funnel existing customer demand toward retailers and c-store locations.
"In these challenging economic times, digital tools like GetUpside are critical to provide the advantage stations need to continue to run a profitable business," said Lou Burke, manager, Phillips 66 branded sales. "Despite the slowdown, we've seen the platform continue to deliver incremental petroleum volumes with measurable results."
More than 4,000 fuel locations have joined the GetUpside platform so far in 2020. Approximately 20,000 sites across the country currently participate.
THE HERSHEY CO.
The Kit Kat candy brand is giving 200 fans the chance to be among the first to taste its newest flavor innovations via membership in an exclusive members-only club. The Kit Kat Flavor Club Sweepstakes invites them to enter for the chance to be selected to join a limited group of Kit Kat Insiders who will receive in-development products and club member swag delivered to their doorsteps.
Entrants who are selected to be club members will receive three kits during the debut year, timed to fall 2020, early 2021 and late spring 2021. The first kit will feature Kit Kat Duos mocha + chocolate before it arrives on shelves nationwide in November.
"We listened to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from our recent Kit Kat flavor launches," said Amy Minderman, director, Kit Kat brand. "It is important for us to hear feedback from our fans, so that we can continue to create flavors they love, so we are thrilled to introduce the Kit Kat Flavor Club!"
Hussmann Corp. launched a multi-destination roadshow that will travel to more than 40 locations throughout the United States to showcase new and future-proof retailing solutions. The Hussmann Shop the Future Mobile Experience offers retailers an interactive demonstration on innovative solutions for today and tomorrow, all within a custom 53-foot-long, 700-square-foot trailer.
"The food retailing industry is always evolving –and we have seen the pace of change only accelerate this year," said Hussmann CEO Tim Figge. "With many industry events and expos canceled or moving online, Hussmann is bringing solutions for changing dynamics right to retailers."
Starting in St. Louis, Mo., the Shop the Future Mobile Experience will be set up on-site at scheduled locations throughout the remainder of 2020.
IRI acquired Retail Solutions Inc. (RSi), provider of supply chain solutions for consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers. The addition of RSi's solutions to the IRI Liquid Data technology platform will offer the industry's most comprehensive supply chain solution, as well as the largest repository of de-identified and anonymous consumer data assets in the CPG industry, delivering long-term increased value and impact to clients, according to IRI.
"The acquisition of RSi builds upon IRI's long track record of continuous investment in technology, solutions and data assets," said Andrew Appel, IRI president and CEO. "IRI remains laser-focused on serving the CPG and retail industries with innovative solutions that help our clients address their most challenging issues to deliver highly differentiated capabilities and impact to clients. The investment in RSi to enhance our supply chain optimization capabilities is a direct response to our clients' needs as they navigate disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."
RSi's proven products and solutions have been used by more than three-fourths of the world's 50 largest CPG manufacturers to maximize their on-shelf availability, operational productivity and omnichannel sales growth.
"With access to enhanced data, technology, solutions and resources, existing RSi clients will be even better positioned to make smarter, faster decisions that maximize efficiency and drive growth," said Stuart Careford, chief customer officer at RSi.
Molson Coors Beverage Co. entered into an exclusive agreement with The Coca-Cola Co. to manufacture, market and distribute Topo Chico Hard Seltzer in the United States. This marks another step in the company's plan to aggressively grow its above premium portfolio and become a major competitor in the fast-growing hard seltzer segment.
"Building on the incredibly successful launches of Vizzy and Coors Seltzer earlier this year, we are thrilled that Molson Coors will launch Topo Chico Hard Seltzer in 2021," said Gavin Hattersley, CEO of Molson Coors. "This is another significant step in growing our above premium portfolio and becoming a major competitor in the rapidly-growing hard seltzer segment, both key components of our revitalization plan."
Topo Chico Hard Seltzer blends purified sparkling water, a gluten-free alcohol base and natural flavors, with minerals added for taste, and is inspired by Topo Chico sparkling mineral water, a 125-year-old brand with a rich history that has been popular with consumers across the U.S., including many mixologists. Topo Chico Hard Seltzer will be developed in four flavors, including: Tangy Lemon Lime, Exotic Pineapple, Strawberry Guava and Tropical Mango.
"The Coca-Cola Co. and Molson Coors have a shared passion for building and growing some of the world's most beloved brands," said Dan White, vice president of strategic initiatives, The Coca-Cola Co. "In bringing Topo Chico Hard Seltzer to market, our focus is speed, quality and efficiency. Our relationship with Molson Coors Beverage Company allows Topo Chico Hard Seltzer to launch with scale, at an accelerated pace, delivering a product that consumers will love."
Molson Coors will use its marketing, sales and distribution expertise for a scaled national launch in the first half of 2021, prioritizing markets where Topo Chico sparkling mineral water is known and loved. The production and packaging of the products will be initially handled by a third party.
Molson Coors will also distribute La Colombe Coffee Roasters' ready-to-drink coffee products in the convenience and drug store channels starting in 2021. La Colombe and Molson Coors plan to fully transition distribution for all channels to the Molson Coors network over time.
"This is one more way we're innovating beyond our traditional product lines to deliver what consumers want," said Pete Marino, president of emerging growth at Molson Coors. "It's a mutually beneficial partnership for all; La Colombe will enhance its reach through our established distribution network, our distributors will benefit from access to another fast-growing, high-demand product they can offer their retailer customers, and Molson Coors adds an above-premium offering to the top of our non-alcohol roster of brands."
The partnership is expected to more than double La Colombe's retail footprint in drug and convenience stores.