DALLAS -- 7-Eleven here has introduced a new kids' beverage set into a little more than half of its stores nationwide. This month marks the first time that customers can see a row of novelty beverages targeted to tweens, teens and younger kids aged 1 to 6 in a special "Cooler Fun Zone" at eye level.
Participating 7-Eleven stores will carry approximately nine to 12 different beverages with brand names like Tummy-Tickler, Baby Buddies, Cool Topz and Fun Water.
Neither of the two consultants contacted by SN has seen this done before with beverages in a convenience store or in a supermarket.
"I think the idea of targeting kids makes sense," said Don Stuart, a partner in Cannondale Associates, Wilton, Conn. "But it seems like they have been fairly finite. I don't know if they were being too scientific," he said, adding that perhaps the c-store didn't need to split out teens, since teens usually drink regular soft drinks or sports drinks.
The new merchandising approach reminded Bill Bishop, president of Willard Bishop Consulting, Barrington, Ill., of how the Metro rack broke the eyeline and focused attention on the premium offering, making it easier to find.
"I think the lesson that we're learning is that stores need to be clearer and cleaner in the offering they are making to a consumer. This does sound like it does it," Bishop said. "The newer, more successful retailers typically have a much more sharply defined proposition for the consumer. This is clearly on this strategy. How well they execute it will tell the tale."
The c-store chain is targeting various ages with different characters and bottle sizes. Elmo from Sesame Street tops a 9.5-ounce Fun Water; Clifford the Big Red Dog and friends are on Tummy-Ticklers fruit juices. For older kids, there is SpongeBob Squarepants and Jimmy Neutron on Cool Topz drinks (which have a sports top beneath the character head), and The Simpsons on Belly-Washers, a line by In Zone Brands, Atlanta.
Belly-Washers was the first such beverage product introduced last year, said 7-Eleven spokeswoman Dana Manley. "We have had a lot of success with them," she said.
Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros., Marvel Comics and others have licensed their characters to bottle tops. Suggested retail price ranges from 89 cents to $2.89.