WAWA, Pa. — Wawa Inc. knows that its customers are always changing and so, the convenience store retailer wants to make sure that its offer both in-store and at the forecourt always reflects that.
With this in mind, the operator of more than 900 convenience retail stores recently decided to enter the smoking cessation category, for the first time in its history. Wawa has formed a partnership with GSK Consumer Healthcare to offer its Nicorette products at all Wawa stores — becoming the first major c-store retailer to launch Nicorette chainwide.
“Over the last several years, people have started to change habits and become much more conscious and educated about their health and wellness. Our in-store offer, both in foodservice and packaged goods, reflects this trend and we wanted to make sure that we have a complete offer in the tobacco space as well,” said William Kloss, Wawa’s category manager for tobacco and snacks.
Research shows that two-thirds of smokers are considering quitting over the next year. Since roughly 90 percent of all cigarettes are purchased at convenience stores, it seems like “a great opportunity” to establish a Nicorette presence in the convenience retail channel, according to Susan Miller, customer strategy manager, Nicorette, for GSK Consumer Healthcare.
“Nicorette has been helping millions of Americans quit smoking for over 35 years, and we are now offering convenience store shoppers a smaller, 10-count size that allows them to give quitting a try at a price that is typically less than a pack of cigarettes,” Miller explained. “With the launch of the smaller size 10-count Nicorette gum and the new 20-count Nicorette Coated Lozenges, we are excited to partner with Wawa and hopefully entice more smokers to begin their journey to stop smoking with Nicorette.”
Wawa’s stores are spread across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C. At most of its locations, Kloss said Nicorette is merchandised on the tobacco fixture in its innovation section, close to e-cigarettes. In the chain’s smaller-format stores, the product is usually merchandised under the counter.
To support the launch, Wawa has “a very robust marketing program” in place that includes coupons for Wawa Rewards members, virtual ads and signage throughout the store, noted Kloss.
“Our goal is to let customers know that we are in the smoking cessation category and offer a strong assortment of the Nicorette products,” he said. “We will also have a full promotional calendar on Nicorette products to bring value to our customers and build brand awareness.”
As health and wellness trends continue to grow across all segments of the American population, GSK believes the smoking cessation category is poised to grow in the convenience channel. Miller is confident that the success of the Wawa launch will lead to even more opportunities for Nicorette to expand its c-store footprint and provide access to millions of smokers.
“Providing smoking cessation solutions where the majority of tobacco products are sold makes sense from a corporate responsibility perspective,” she said.