You’re on your annual family trip to the beach, it’s 95 degrees in the dead of summer, and your Dad just pulled over to stop for gas. 

You climb all the way out of the 3rd row seat and make a beeline into the convenience store because you need to go to the bathroom. 

After you go to the bathroom your stomach starts rumbling. It’s time for a snack.  Cheez-Its, trail mix, Doritos, they all pique your interest. But something magical in the corner catches your eye.  

The Slurpee machine. Bright blue, red, and yellow, it looks like a colorful time machine for your taste buds. Well Marketing Student, today’s lesson is a deep dive into the brand who built a National Holiday all around their Slurpee machines and the Marketing lessons to learn. 

Take a look at today’s date and you might know who we’re talking about.
Let’s jump back to the year 2002… The convenience store industry was full of brands offering cheap prices, timely goods, and subpar experiences. There was zero brand loyalty. Consumers simply just stopped at the convenience store that was most, uh, convenient to put it simply. Yet, one brand set out to change that.
7-Eleven was a well-established business across the globe, known for their wide variety of snacks, drinks, and proximity to gas stations. But the customer experience was no different at a 7-Eleven.

Until a group of genius magicians Marketers came into the fold… Approaching their 75th anniversary as a brand on July 11th, 2002, 7-Eleven’s Marketing department had an idea to celebrate. 

They wanted to thank their customers for all their support the last 3 quarters of a century. So what did they do? Gave free Slurpees to ALL customers in ALL stores in the US. I mean who doesn’t like free stuff?
This initially earned the brand millions of dollars in PR value as media outlets covered the Free Slurpee Day in droves. It built so much buzz that 7-Eleven decided to do another Free Slurpee Day a year later, and the year after that, and have been doing it every single year since. July 11th has become 7-Eleven’s day. 

It’s the one day of the year that 7-Eleven is the place to be, even if it’s not convenient. Consumers plan their entire days around 7-Eleven on July 11th (ok maybe not but I do).
But why is this so effective from a Marketing standpoint? The campaign just makes sense, 7-Eleven Free Slurpee Day on July 11th from 11am-7pm, it’s cohesive.  And the campaign taps into consumers’ psychological reciprocity. It’s human nature to return a good deed.

7-Eleven is giving consumers a free Slurpee, consumers then feel inclined to give back to 7-Eleven. This “giving back” to 7-Eleven can shine through in a multitude of ways.

Like consumers talking to their friends about 7-Eleven’s free Slurpee day, good old fashioned WoMM (word of mouth marketing lol). Or buying something with your Slurpee (skittles or Cheez-its).
Their focus on their customer experience pays huge dividends.  Free Slurpee Day boosts the perception of 7-Eleven in the eyes of the consumers. 

They are making a significant investment in their consumers by giving away millions of dollars worth of free product.  As a result, store traffic in 7-Eleven’s across the US increased 43% the week leading up to July 11th. The lesson learned? 

If you invest in your customer experience, your customers will invest in you.
As consumers, you can’t help but respect when a brand goes out of their way to give back to their community. This fosters customer loyalty which has a massive impact on the bottom line for your business. 

A study completed by Deloitte showed that increasing customer loyalty by just 5% boosts profits anywhere from 25-95%. A little goes a long way in the customer experience. This positive brand perception has turned July 11th into an annual holiday for 7-Eleven and a National Holiday for all of us hot Americans.
Joining the ranks with Amazon as one of two businesses in the US with a day entirely branded and dedicated to their brand (Prime Day and 7/11), 7-Eleven slurped ok ew I do not like that word.  

7-Eleven separated themselves from the mundane convenience store competition and established themselves as the most enjoyable experience in the industry. Now, it is 8AM right, is that too early to go get my Slurpee??
PS: Giveaways STILL work. They’re a great way to funnel tons of traffic to your brand.  And they don’t have to be national giveaways costing you millions of dollars, you can implement tiny giveaways throughout your community.  

Hosting an event? Give away one free ticket. Launching a new product? Give free early access to a select number of people who sign up. Get creative. Give Give Give, then ask.
Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
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