CSD: Social Networking Takes C-Store Retail by Storm

Apr 22, 2010

By Erin Rigik

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary
of an article from Convenience Store Decisions magazine.

Last September, 7-Eleven launched an online music video competition at its
frozen beverage fan page, www.slurpee.com. In just one day, more than 10,000
web surfers visited the site to participate.

Kwik Trip Inc. has found social networking allows customers to access up-to-date
information about its chain and promotions more easily.

“Customers are on-the-go and they can access our social networking pages
on phones, PDAs or from laptops. It lets customers know what we have going
on in our stores,” said Jenny Frandsen, marketing spokesperson for Kwik
Trip, which has 366 c-stores and 38 tobacco outlets in Iowa, Minnesota, and

Kwik Trip joined Twitter and Facebook seven months ago and began airing its
commercials on the video-sharing Web site YouTube within the last two months.
The chain also emails coupons to those who request the service via their web
site. Within six months of using Facebook, the chain had acquired more than
7,700 fans.

Just who is the chain reaching through its Facebook page? Currently, it has
slightly more female than male fans, and the percentages for 18-44 year olds
is fairly close, meaning the chain is able to reach a wide demographic. Its
followers break down according to age demographics as follows: 18-24 (21 percent),
25-34 (33 percent) 35-44 (21 percent), 45-54 (13 percent) and 55 and over (six

“There has been a lot of response from our customers,” Ms. Frandsen
said. “They (post about) what they love, as well as concerns, and we
follow up. Someone might say, ‘You should bring a store to this area,’ and
I forward it on to our real estate department. We get a lot of feedback on
a variety of topics.”

Ms. Frandsen also encourages feedback by posting questions to engage readers,
asking them to name their favorite kind of Cheese Mountain Pizza, or what new
pizza toppings they would like to see on the chain’s proprietary pizzas.
She then sends the feedback to the proper department so it can be taken into

Having multiple social networking platforms allows Kwik Trip to reach its
customers wherever they are and drive home the message it wants to convey about
its chain.

“What we load onto YouTube can also be linked to Facebook or Twitter,
so we’re tying it all together so customers are getting the same information
no matter where they log on, and keeping the brand message consistent,” Ms.
Frandsen noted.

Discussion Questions: How does the social networking opportunity differ
for c-stores versus other retail channels? Can you come with any examples where
social media would be ideal in marketing to and communicating with the “on-the-go” customer?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

7 Comments on "CSD: Social Networking Takes C-Store Retail by Storm"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ryan Mathews
12 years 28 days ago

It differs only insofar as the c-store industry’s demographics may skew slightly better for digital use (especially in terms of age). But, all retailers could and should find ways to leverage social networks to their advantage.

Jonathan Marek
12 years 28 days ago

In convenience retail, customers are even more mobile than in other retail sector. While I think mobile will be key to profitable using social media in general in retail, it will be even more essential for c-stores.

What is NOT different for convenience retailers is that social networking has not really shown its value as a significant part of a marketing toolkit for major retail brands. Yes, it is the shiny new toy. But as I heard one 100-outlet restaurant chain executive say yesterday after hearing a panel that included Facebook and LinkedIn: “They didn’t say how they put butts in the seats.” It reminds me of 1999, when there were lots of shiny toys, but one of the least sexy, Google Search, was one of very few that actually showed advertisers proven sales increases (the moral equivalent of “butts in seats”). And look what Google is worth today.

Doron Levy
Doron Levy
12 years 28 days ago

Gotta go mobile for c-stores. Is there a 7-Eleven or AM/PM app yet? C’s can take advantage of all the neat little tricks for mobile marketing like proximity coupons. Imagine pulling in to fill up your car and then your iPhone or Blackberry screams at you to go in and get a 400 oz Big Gulp and a Slim Jim for ‘one low price’. Even having an app to find a location is useful to c’s. High speed retailing meets high speed marketing.

Ralph Jacobson
12 years 28 days ago

C-stores have no inherent, significant differences than other retailers in how to handle social media. The tools are out there. If anything, C-stores may have more opportunity with more frequent visits, travelers across larger geographic regions, etc. These are data points that C-stores could leverage to evolve their marketing plans as they get inputs from these shoppers across diverse times of day, cities, etc. The possibilities are endless to capitalize on the C-store culture of the shoppers.

Aakash Pahwa
Aakash Pahwa
12 years 28 days ago

Can’t agree more. As far as usage of social media goes C’s are no different than the traditional retailers. If anything they might be able to leverage more of the social media and yield consistent positive results.

Sitting an ongoing couponing and/or a discount campaign on top of a loyalty program can swing a lot of customers into the store. Social platforms can act as a effective launch pad to execute controlled tests for new product launches for both; C’s and CPGs.

For C’s with a QSR imagine sending out coupons at 11:15 am on a workday, once a week, promoting a combo drive through offer.

Endless opportunities!

Steve Montgomery
12 years 25 days ago

The c-store demographic tends to be younger and more male than female. This gives them a consumer base that uses the various social media possibilities more than a channel whose demographics may skew older (before someone yells I understand that Facebook is attracting more older females and kids these days). They are also a mobile population which means they may be near one of retailer c-store sites several times a week. All this adds up to an opporunity if done correctly.

I also agree the issue is can a retailer demonstrate that its use of the these opportunities generates additional dollars. One way to find out is to offer only those that use social media something different than they can get via the regular promotional channels.

John Crossman
John Crossman
12 years 19 days ago

I wonder if there is a way to market to truck drivers (perhaps through unions) and offer specials. The same could be done with construction workers. A focused push could work.


Take Our Instant Poll

Would you say the social networking opportunity is more or less important for c-stores than other retail channels?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...