Technology Product Helps Retailers Tailor Promotions

Convenience retailers work with tech supplier to offer consumers promotions on products they actually want

People may profess their love for exotic products from distant lands, but in the end most are captivated by all things local.  

Nashville, Tenn.-based Tri Star Energy found recent success implementing a locally driven operating strategy to leverage customer loyalty at 65 Twice Daily stores. Working with Knoxville, Tenn.-based NewsBreak Media, a technology and merchandising expert, Twice Daily now operates its own TV network at the dispensers and inside the store. 

Other NewsBreak Media clients that have found success preaching local, grass-roots retailing include Sinclair Olympus Hill, which launched the Sinclair Network in Salt Lake City, and Harmon’s Grocery, a Salt Lake City grocer that launched the Harmon’s Network, becoming the first big-box grocery chain to launch its own media network.

Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers and Loop Neighborhood Market, based in northern California, are also finding that a local emphasis can greatly resonate with the customer base.  

“It feels like a hyper-local network, with small snippets about a chain wrapped along with other local content important to the community, starting with local weather,” said Bob Bradley, co-founder of NewsBreak Media.

“People’s buying decisions are impacted by a host of variables. We can capture these variables using our technology, and then capitalize on the variables,” he said. Ultimately, they can incentivize store customers to fill the market basket more robustly—and in less than 2 minutes with high-margin products and not ones on promotion, he said.

“Our objective is to position a retailer as ‘the local c-store chain,’ ” Bradley said. “We can work with a local broadcast company to source short interstitials of content. As a buying customer, if you show me ads all the time, the recall rate decreases each time paying customers interact with that content. So, we break up the store ads with other local-driven content.”

It’s proven to be a supreme relationship builder. Migrating from a hardware-centric company (monitors on gas pumps) to a software-based company, NewsBreak Media enables results through its Programmatic Merchandising Platform, which is based on a dynamic data warehouse and development of algorithms.

Merchandising content “playlists” are displayed on screens at the pump, as well as on screens inside the store and on personal mobile devices. Playlists are automatically created and are based off key consumer buying variables that affect purchasing behaviors, such as time of day, household income, ZIP code and weather. Playlists are adjusted based on sales data analytics that constantly measure the effectiveness of the playlist.

NewsBreak Media generates granular insights relative to many store categories—from lottery tickets to foodservice. Proprietary foodservice, for instance, is a key aspect of its client-service strategy, co-founder Brian Nelson said. That’s because increasing unit sales of these items drive high-margin revenue and decrease costs associated with waste.

One core NewsBreak method is identifying the “anchor product” in a store or chain before going to an up-sell strategy that marry the anchor products with those high-margin items that are most compatible. Products on sale, Nelson said, are the low-hanging fruit that don’t need as much internal support to attain velocity and achieve dollar and unit sales goals.

Two examples of how the technology adapts to variables in a local market include:

  • Coffee. Algorithms are intuitive to know when it might be time to shift from a hot-dispensed-beverage promotion to a cold one. At 8 a.m. in a Waco, Texas, c-store, a hot coffee is likely the beverage of choice for that day-part. But because the mercury is already 80 degrees, the technology shifts a playlist to emphasize an iced-coffee promotion—understanding that on a sultry morning, even die-hard hot-coffee drinkers might appreciate something cold.
  • Beer. Bradley said the playlist messaging at a store in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago will amplify ads for Pabst Blue Ribbon—a preferred budget beer for blue-collar clientele. A playlist at a retail location in the northern suburbs of Chicago, however, might want to promote an Amstel Light or Blue Moon variety.

“Operators have made huge investments in their stores,” said Nelson. “For these investments to pay off, they have to properly engage with their consumer to drive unit sales higher.”