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How 7-Eleven Drove A 51 Percent Increase in Foot Traffic on 7/11

The chain's Free Slurpee Day promotion generated an increase in market share — and surprising sales success.

7-Eleven drove a 51 percent increase in foot traffic by celebrating its namesake day with free Slurpees for all customers on July 11, according to data from GasBuddy — and if past years are any indication, the convenience chain didn’t lose any money doing so.

Quite the opposite, actually: While sales data for 2018 hasn’t been released, in years past, research has shown that Slurpee sales actually go up on Free Slurpee Day, rising 38 percent even when the chain gave away 4.5 million of the drinks for free. Market share also increased, rising 36 percent in the Dallas/Fort Worth area during the 2018 event.

Why? It seems contradictory, but when brands run promotions of this variety, customers often make an additional purchase while they’re in the store — or upgrade to an item or size that isn’t part of the giveaway.

“Logic dictates that giveaways like 7-Eleven’s Free Slurpee Day should cost the company money: People come in, get their freebie and walk out,” Martha C. White wrote in an article for Time. “But what actually happens is that a lot of people walk in, try the sample size and then decide to buy a bigger Slurpee that’s not part of the giveaway.”

It’s for this reason that 7-Eleven has been running the promotion for over a decade now — and other brands can learn from the example. Not only can live events or giveaways give customers the “something they can’t get on Amazon” factor, but a clever giveaway that consumers actually care about both engenders good will and boosts sales.

That said, it won’t work without a sound marketing strategy and a relevant product tie-in: 7-Eleven’s Slurpee Day works because the chain is well-known for the product, the date tie-in is easy to understand, and they have a sound strategy for driving buzz on social media. Brands looking to emulate their sales success should have an equally relevant driver behind their giveaway or event.

“This is a great example of how in-store promotions can separate a brand from the competition,” said Frank Beard, convenience store and retail trends analyst at GasBuddy. “More than 80 percent of convenience stores sell fuel, and the challenge has always been to convert pump traffic into in-store traffic. 7-Eleven used a well-known product (Slurpees) to drive significant foot traffic.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of GeoMarketing.com. A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.