Do This; Don’t Do That

Category management can be a marathon. So run a mile in these retailers’ shoes. What has worked for them? And what hasn’t?
do this; don't do that

Bring the Sun Inside

Rid your store of the winter doldrums with a colorful upgrade

Joey Hobson, customer fanatics director of category management for North Salt Lake, Utah-based Maverik Stores, says the chain of 278 stores launches into the summer selling season with a simple and subtle tweak: Categories across the store get a fresh coat of paint, so to speak.

Perhaps it’s blue for the sky or yellow for the sun, but a simple adjustment such as fountain-drink cups that proscribe to this summery color scheme helps influence the customer to make summertime purchasing decisions—and in a roundabout way the chain’s loyalty program.

“We focus more on our summer loyalty contests and try to get more transactions thanks to the customer’s participation in key product purchases that reward them with more chances to win a huge prize,” Hobson says. “That dominates our summer theme and emphasis. Last year, we gave away a Mountain Dew-themed truck and boat, and it was pretty awesome.”

To prepare for 2016, Hobson says his team learns from the previous year’s sales activity to guide current-year operations and strategies. One that he cites is “continue to do fewer, bigger and bolder promotions and giveaways to ensure ‘share of mind’ with our customers.”

Maverik’s go-to categories—the ones that always get results—include carbonated soft drinks, noncarbonated and fountain. “Summer is all about the drinks,” he says. The chain brings in more growler stations and zeroes in on selling more fountain drinks.

“We are trying to push more foodservice during the summer as well as new food innovations and bundling,” he says. Introducing lighter food fare is always a safe route to go because some customers change their eating habits during the summer season, Hobson says.

And beverages aren’t the only things the chain will push during the summer months. While general-merchandise items such as propane tanks, sunglasses, lighter ­fluid and sunscreen will receive more prominent placement in the store, Hobson says Maverik stores won’t see any radical addition of new items to its lineup, other than “a few minor shippers.”

Do's and Don'ts

Do: Consider spring cleaning. If you can, change up the graphics in the fountain zone to brighten up the place, or add some summery offerings such as frozen yogurt and sweet RTD teas, or general-merchandise items such as sunglasses and sunscreen.

Don’t: Too many varied contest promotions overdiversifies your loyalty base. As Maverik has done, consider paring your varied prizes and really ramp up promotion on two large jackpots. It’s the Powerball effect—the higher the payout, the more people are willing to play.

Continued: Snack Attack