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7-Eleven launches retail media network

Next up, new Lab Stores outfitted with cameras and sensors to gain deeper insights into how shoppers have in-store.
7-Eleven new Retail Media Network

IRVING, Texas — 7-Eleven Inc. is aiming to target consumers more effectively with the launch of Gulp Media Network.

According to 7-Eleven director of brand and customer insights, Ben Tienor, Gulp differs from many retailer media networks in the market as the c-store retailer focuses more on fulfilling immediate consumption purchase occasions vs. stock-up trips, reported Convenience Store News sister brand Path to Purchase Institute (P2PI).

Geotargeting data shows that the average 7-Eleven customer shops six other retailers in the c-store space throughout the year. "Shoppers are loyal to fulfilling their need and that's the experience," Tienor said during the P2PI LIVE event, held on Oct. 18 in Chicago.

7-Eleven is more focused on marketing on third-party platforms and properties with Gulp by leveraging first-party data to target the right consumers with relevant messaging. The c-store retailer partnered with IRI for the data.

Despite having about 80 million members enrolled in its retailer loyalty program, immediate consumption occasions are not necessarily based on brand loyalty, according to Tienor, noting that 7-Eleven is focused on engaging and attracting shoppers with the best experience and serving up the things its customers like most.

"The most visible way that we try to engage those customers is by leading with customer fandoms, passion points, hobbies or interests akin to that," he said, adding that thinking of ways to enhance its customer interests, particularly the sports experience, with brands is key to how 7-Eleven is building its retailer media network.

To further understand its customers, the retailer also recently introduced the "Brainfreeze Collective," a research community of about 160,000 members who have opted in to field research surveys or qualitative methods and test new in-store and online experiences to understand customer preference and behaviour in ways it can't by mining through receipts or purchase data.

"From the research experience side, I don't need to ask [the research participants] if they drink coffee because I see their purchase behaviour, and I can differentiate the answers by high-frequency coffee drinkers, low-frequency coffee drinkers or whatever it is across the category," Tienor said. "Tying the research methodology to the purchase data is probably the most unique way that we lean into engagement."

Following the Brainfreeze Collective, 7-Eleven will launch Lab Stores, which are like the average 7-Eleven store but are outfitted with cameras and sensors to gain deeper insights into how shoppers are behaving in stores.

These stores aim to help the retailer and brands understand how their consumers are engaging with not only their products, but with point-of-purchase displays, the category, or if they're going to the snack aisle before the beverage refrigerator, and how long they're contemplating their purchase, for example.

Labs stores are not mock stores that leverage test subjects, but are real stores with real shoppers "voting with their real money," Tienor said.

Irving-based 7-Eleven operates, franchises and or licenses more than 13,000 stores in Canada and the United States. It also operates and franchises Speedway, Stripes, Laredo Taco Co., and Raise the Roost Chicken and Biscuits locations.

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