C-Store Heavyweights Debut New Products At CRU

Anheuser-Busch, Kraft among companies offering retailers a sneak peek at new innovations

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- During this year’s Convenience Retailing University (CRU), hundreds of c-store retailers and suppliers descended upon The Renaissance Hotel in Glendale, Ariz. Besides taking “courses” on industry-related issues and making connections, attendees were granted previews of new products at the C-Store Product Gallery.

While many products were featured, some of the stand-outs included new offerings from well-known companies like Kraft and Blue Bunny, as well as CRU sponsors Anheuser-Busch and NJOY Electronic Cigarettes. In this first of two stories, Convenience Store Products profiles what these industry staples had to offer.

Budweiser Black Crown

Easily one of the most eagerly anticipated new products to debut at CRU, attendees had to wait until the second night of the conference to sample Anheuser-Busch’s latest offering. According to Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser Black crown is the result of Project 12, a collaboration of Budweiser’s 12 Brewmasters, and was sampled by thousands of consumers during the summer of 2012.

Described in CRU’s New Products Guide as“a new 6% ABV Golden Amber-Lager from Budweiser that is distinctively flavorful yet smooth and drinkable,” Budweiser Black Crown launched in style at the CRU Nightclub on Wednesday, January 30th.  Party-goers got to sample the new beer while listening to a special performance by Brett Michaels.

MiO Fit

Black Crown wasn’t the only beverage featured at CRU: Kraft Foods Inc. showed off what they’ve dubbed as “the first customizable sports drink.” Offered in either Berry Blast or Arctic Grape, MiO Fit is a portable liquid water enhancer boasting eloctrolytes and B vitamins.

The CRU New Products Guide reports that MiO Fit “gives consumers the convenience of having 12 sports drinks in the palm of their hand so they can create a sport drink whenever, wherever.”

Cadbury Caramello Cream Bars

While Blue Bunny products have typically focused on the ice cream, chocolate takes center stage in its new Cadbury Caramello Cream Bars. “Caramello is obviously a phenomenal chocolate brand,” said Blue Bunny’s national account manager, Randy Martin. “The Caramello candy tie-in is a good brand for us. It’s a big point of difference.”

The bars, which are only just shipping out for the first time, feature Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel sauce and dipped in thick, rich Cadbury milk chocolaty coating. “Everybody really likes the fact that the chocolate, because it is a Cadbury-driven brand of chocolate, is thicker and has a more chocolaty taste and feel,” Martin said.

NJOY King Premium Electronic Cigarette

Buzz has been building for some time on NJOY’s “game-changing” electronic cigarette, NJOY Kings. Recently profiled by Times magazine and CNBC, NJOY’s senior vice president of sales and distribution Vito Maurici said Kings offer a more realistic smoking experience with a real paper feel, soft filter and an authentic flavor developed by the company’s “Master Flavorist.”

“Response to NJOY Kings has been exceptional, both from adult smokers and from retailers,” Maurici said. “For smokers, NJOY Kings’ unique virtual cigarette experience addresses their need for a truly satisfying alternative that for many has become a new and better way to smoke.”

“For retailers, NJOY Kings innovative front-counter display and marketing support has helped drive NJOY Kings’ dramatic growth in their stores, while delivering over double the margins of cigarettes,” he continued. “NJOY now has a 50% market share in c-stores and NJOY Kings accounts for almost 70% of the total category's growth, according to Nielsen.”

For more new products from CRU, see this Thursday’s issue of Convenience Store Products.