Will a healthier Wawa be a more successful Wawa?
Regional convenience store chain Wawa is expanding its footprint and improving its offerings in a way that’s a little Whole Foods, a little Instagram.
The Pennsylvania-based chain is opening 63 new stores and remodeling 59 of them, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The company is embarking on the expansion in conjunction with an internal revamp to better capitalize on both the health and wellness trend and the Gen Z and Millennial desire for fashionable food presentation.
The chain is adding custom salads, grain bowls and specialty coffees. It is also testing a secret, specialty beverage menu featuring Instagrammable smoothies. Wawa is also pursuing a new geographical focus with plans to build up its presence in Florida. The chain intends to make Florida the state with the most Wawa locations by 2021. Wawa currently has a total of 840 stores in six states and Washington, D.C.
Wawa has also been experimenting with drastically different store concepts. Less than a year after opening an 11,000-square-foot store, the biggest Wawa location to date, the chain announced plans to open a 3,000-square-foot store, as reported in PhillyVoice.
The small concept, which features a walk-up window to fulfill orders made via app, is characterized by NBC Philadelphia as a test store. The location will be used to pilot some of the chain’s new products, like “upscale hot teas.” It will also have a section called a “Test Nest” where it will trial environmentally-friendly alternatives to coffee stirrers, bags and other related accessories used by customers.
In response to changing consumer tastes, convenience stores, from the most prominent national chains to the smallest mom-and-pops, are expanding their offerings beyond mainstay CPG products like potato chips and canned food. It has become increasingly common for convenience stores to introduce enhancements like prepared foods, coffee bars and better-for-you snacks.
Even 7-Eleven, the nation’s biggest convenience store player, has been mixing things up to try to meet customer needs beyond the familiar Slurpees and hot dogs on rollers. The chain launched a test store in Dallas, TX earlier this year, which features an in-store café and restaurant.
- Wawa is undergoing a huge expansion, from grain bowls to fair-trade coffee to catering – Philadelphia Inquirer
- Wawa reveals plans for tiny location in Center City – PhillyVoice
- 7-Eleven to take a page from Starbucks with a cafe concept – RetailWire
- Center City Wawa Will Be Testing Ground For New Products – NBC Philadephia
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Wawa’s more Millennial/Gen Z-focused offerings allow it to better compete as it expands its store footprint? What do you see as Wawa’s growth potential and what will it need to do to succeed as it moves into new markets?