NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store industry 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:
Clif Bar & Co.
Clif Bar will serve as the official energy bar of the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 U.S. Series in 2015.
"Clif Bar is honored to partner with Ironman to continue our legacy of support for the triathlon community at this iconic race series," stated Clif Bar & Co. CEO Kevin Cleary. "We have supported some of the world's top triathletes with sports nutrition that is good for their bodies and the planet, and we look forward to offering great-tasting food that will help all race participants achieve their fitness and nutrition goals."
Through the sponsorship, Clif Bar products will be available to athletes at aid stations along the bike and run courses of all 33 U.S. Ironman events.
"We're excited to welcome Clif Bar to the Ironman family," said Carola Ross, chief sales officer for Ironman. "Clif Bar's commitment to creating sports nutrition made with responsibly sourced, organic ingredients is in line with the health and lifestyle goals of our participants. We are confident athletes will appreciate a wholesome, nutritious energy bar option on course."
The Coca-Cola Co.
Coca-Cola unveiled the world's first PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant materials at the World Expo-Milan. The new PlantBottle packaging is made through patented technology that converts natural sugars found in plants into the ingredients for making PET plastic bottles. It looks, functions and recycles like traditional PET, but has a lighter footprint on the planet, the company said.
"Today is a pioneering milestone within our company's packaging portfolio," stated Nancy Quan, global research and development officer for Coca-Cola. "Our vision was to maximize game-changing technology, using responsibly sourced plant-based materials to create the globe's first fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable materials. We are delighted to unveil the first bottles here at World Expo, a world-class exhibition where sustainable innovation is celebrated."
PlantBottle packaging can be used for a variety of packaging sizes and across water, sparkling, juice and tea beverage brands. Coca-Cola currently uses sugarcane and waste from the sugarcane manufacturing process to create PlantBottle packaging, and plans to continue investment in it.
Coca-Cola also launched a new campaign in support of its FUZE brand that is designed to introduce people to the bold, flavor-charged line of iced teas. It features a new spot, "Butterflyz," that stars pop culture icon Mr. T and will appear extensively online on media properties such as YouTube, Xbox, MediaBrix and Spotify.
The campaign also includes a variety of social content, out-of-home ads, experiential sampling stops and retail activations throughout the summer.
"You can't have tea without Mr. T, fool," said Mr. T, star of The A-Team and Rocky III. "FUZE Iced Tea is just like the butterfly I play in the commercial. Just when you think you know what to expect, boom! Something bold, unique and exciting happens! I pity the fool who doesn't try it this summer!"
Frito-Lay North America
The Cheetos brand is celebrating the season with the Cheetos Flamin' Hot Summer sweepstakes, which marks the introduction of the latest flavor in Frito-Lay's Cheetos line: Cheetos Mix-Ups Flamin' Hot & Cheezy.
Two keys are hidden in specially marked bags of Cheetos Mix-Ups Flamin' Hot & Cheezy, Cheetos Flamin' Hot Crunchy, Cheetos Puffs or Cheetos Crunchy. Once a key is found, the finder just needs to follow the enclosed instructions to return the key to the Cheetos brand, and the doors to Chester Cheetah's boss' beach house will be unlocked so each finder can enjoy a flamin' hot vacation for five nights and six flamin' hot days in either San Diego, Calif., Laguna Beach, Calif., or Destin, Fla.
"Summer is the season when families let loose a bit and turn up the fun," said Jeannie Cho, senior director of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. "This year, Chester is heating things up by adding Flamin' Hot & Cheezy Mix-Ups to the full line of Cheetos snacks, and by giving chances to win the ultimate beach vacation. This will no doubt lead to one flamin' hot fun summer."
Adults can enter to win other prizes, such as sunglasses, coolers, portable speakers and more, at http://summer.cheetos.com. They can receive a bonus entry by sharing the promotion on Twitter using the hashtag #CheetosEntry. The limit is one entry and one bonus entry per day.
Members of Kellogg's Family Rewards program in the United States will be able to collect their points automatically through the use of new technology instead of having to enter codes found on the inside of packages. Consumers can use smartphones to upload their receipts or connect existing retailer loyalty cards and memberships to Family Rewards.
Kellogg also added new brands to the list of those participating in the program, including Pringles, Murray and Murray Sugar Free cookies, Kellogg's Origins cereal, Keebler Ready Crusts pie crusts, and Cheez-It Crunch'D.
"The Kellogg's Family Rewards program is already a terrific benefit to our U.S. consumers; the website has more traffic than all other Kellogg U.S. websites combined," stated Larry Bruck, Kellogg Co. vice president, global marketing. "We're confident the new technology will encourage even more people to participate in the program since it's even easier to collect points to earn rewards."
Kellogg's Family Rewards will continue to provide the same points per product purchased and rewards, with no changes to daily/weekly point limits or the amount of points already in participants' accounts.
Mike's Hard Lemonade Co.
Consumers are invited to "come out back" and enjoy the best moments of summer with the Mike's Hard Lemonade Flavors of America variety pack. The portable fridge pack of cans is designed to slide easily onto the shelf for compact refrigeration or convenient transportation from the backyard to the beach or wherever summer takes them.
The pack features refreshing flavors (Lemonade, Peach, Black Cherry and Apple) that are iconic to different regions of the country, like peach juice from Georgia. To help bring them to life, Mike's partnered with a team of acclaimed chefs, including nationally renowned Graham Elliot, to reinvent backyard fare with the flavors of Mike's Hard Lemonade.
"Like Mike's, my food is known for being fun and a bit unconventional. So teaming up with the brand to create delicious, unique flavor pairings was a no-brainer," said Elliot. "I love the unexpected burst of flavor of Mike's Hard Lemonade paired with my reinvented American classics."
Flavors of America will hit shelves with an integrated marketing program that brings the backyard to life through a series of experiential events; a media campaign with placements in entertainment-focused outlets like Spotify and Rolling Stone to reach people who are relaxing in their backyards; and digital advertising, including content debuting throughout June that features Graham Elliot treating Chicagoans to the ultimate backyard experience through impromptu pop-up backyard happy hours in an elevator and on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, the company said.
"Mike's knows the best moments of summer happen in the backyard," said Sanjiv Gajiwala, vice president of marketing, Mike's Hard Lemonade Co. "Not only is the backyard where mike's was invented, but it's also where we kick back with our friends, play catch with our kids and perfect our skills on the grill. When mike's invites you to 'come out back' this summer, we're simply asking you to embrace those backyard moments no matter where they strike."
Mondelēz International renewed its global strategic partnership with Facebook, with a focus on creating and delivering creative video content and driving impulse snack purchasing online. Together, the companies will leverage and innovate around two of the fastest growing consumer behaviors on social media platforms: video consumption and mobile commerce.
"The partnership with Facebook is a core element of our fearless marketing vision, which aims at accelerating growth through transformational marketing," said Dana Anderson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Mondelēz International. "Investing in large-scale media partnerships enables us to connect our brands with consumers in new creative ways."
On the video front, a dedicated, full-time Facebook creative strategist will work alongside Mondelēz marketers and its agencies to develop scalable video content natively for the platform to optimize social engagement. On the ecommerce front, Mondelēz International and Facebook will work together to test scalable solutions to drive impulse purchases with some of the company's power brands across key markets such as Australia, India, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"Facebook is the No. 1 player in mobile and its ability to reach millennial consumers, our primary target audience, is what makes our partnership so invaluable," said Cindy Chen, global head of ecommerce at Mondelēz International. "Used by consumers and distributors alike, Facebook is the ideal channel for cracking the code on how to 'sell a cookie online,' creating a true social digital commerce model with the potential to become our largest digital storefront."
PepsiCo is launching Stubborn Sodas, a line of craft fountain sodas that uses sugar as a sweetener instead of high-fructose corn syrup. The new product line is expected to launch in the foodservice channel in select regions as early as this summer, but the company did not announce any specific locations.
Flavors in the new line will include black cherry with tarragon, orange hibiscus, pineapple cream and agave vanilla cream.