Retailers gained insight into various topics to help them better succeed in the industry at the National Association of Convenience Stores Show (NACS) in Las Vegas as it continued on Monday, Oct. 3.
Loyalty Needs to Evolve
Speakers Todd Gulbransen, senior vice president of consumer marketing at PDI; Greg Crow, vice president of Insights at PDI; and Colin Dornish, senior director of operations at Coen Markets, shared insights on developing successful loyalty programs during their session, “Benchmarking to Improve Loyalty Outcomes: Lessons from PDI and Coen Markets.”
They emphasized that loyalty programs are tools to gain a better understanding of customers and develop deeper relationships. When developing and using a loyalty program, there is a heavy Importance on data, personalization, analytics and reporting and data access.
Key ideas when measuring loyalty include building a level of engagement and advocacy over time and recognizing different consumers have different needs.
“We have an incredible track record of developing value in the convenience industry,” said Crow.
The focus of improving a loyalty program is keeping consumers who are in the highest tier of engagement where they are and determining how to move consumers in the lower tiers up.
Dornish spoke about Coen’s best practices with its loyalty program, which launched in April 2021.
He advocated for the recognition that loyalty is not a project but a company initiative and noted that Coen makes it a top priority throughout the organization. Team members need to be well educated on it and understand why it’s important. The communication with stores helps drive loyalty growth.
One of the biggest takeaways is that loyalty is an outcome, not a program.
Driving Excitement With Dispensed Beverages
“Gulp! Reinvigorating Dispensed Beverages” was led by Ryan Ratcliffe, dispensed beverage category manager at Maverik; Jose Salinas, director, C&G channel, Marmon Foodservice Technologies; Chris Rapanick, director of business development at NACS; and David Hall, vice president of global foodservice at Circle K.
Ratcliffe spoke on Utah-based Maverik’s goal of competing with the soda shops spreading throughout the state. The chain’s solution was to create its own menu, allowing customers to choose their base and add further ingredients such as flavors, syrups and creams.
Maverik has used social media, particularly Tik Tok, to drive awareness.
When Salinas took the stage, he commented that many aspects of c-stores have changed over the years, dispensed beverages included. The equipment available for the category has expanded, and he shared that there is a 3-19% sales increase with digital screens.
Engagement is everything when driving dispensed beverage sales, especially as retailers strive to capitalize on the impulse sale.
Hall echoed the sentiment that engagement is important, as well as improving the customer experience and driving excitement.
Circle K partnered with Pepsi to create a drink that would be exclusive to the chain — Purple Thunder. It marketed the beverage with billboards and linked the dispensed drink with bottles and cans in displays.
The chain also started a subscription program that allows customers to get one drink a day all month long for $5.99, including cold and frozen dispensed or coffee.
“We’re making sure they’ve got someplace to come where they can get a great beverage any time,” Hall said.
“Convenience Stores Are Community Stores” was dedicated to the relationship between retailers and their employees and customers. It was introduced by Don Rhoads, 2022-2023 NACS Chairman. Jake Wood, founder of Team Rubicon, gave the keynote address.
“At my core and what I’m most passionate about is being a convenience retailer,” said Rhoads.
Rhoads emphasized the value of the retailer’s connection with the community, including both the employee community and industry community.
He then introduced Wood, who shared the history behind Team Rubicon, a disaster response organization.
“Sometimes, we don’t realize the moment we are facing,” said Wood, as he shared how moments and decisions can change trajectories.
Wood spoke about the moments he experienced with Team Rubicon that changed the organization’s capabilities, including its recent experience with COVID-19.
He encouraged conference attendees to think about moments in their lives where they can make a difference.