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DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. named The Hershey Co. as the recipient of the company's 2009 Retailer Initiative Award at its annual merchandising award dinner and ceremony, marking the second time the iconic confectionery company has won the honor and the first time for any supplier-partner to win twice, the company reported.
"While our customers' needs continually change, Hershey's expert innovation and management in the confectionery category is a constant we can count on," Jesus Delgado-Jenkins, 7-Eleven senior vice president for merchandising and logistics, said in a released statement. "The Hershey team provided critical leadership among our confectionery suppliers during a significant merchandising re-set in our stores because they believed in the new plan. Their willingness to bring competitors on board in this effort paid big dividends for all of us."
Retailer Initiative is 7-Eleven's strategy for providing customers with what they want through item-by-item management at each store, and this annual honor recognizes a top supplier and partner that excels in supporting 7-Eleven stores and meeting their customers' changing needs, the retailer reported.
Hershey was selected for its across-the-board efforts in the confectionery category, specifically increasing efficiencies, identifying and responding to consumer trends, accelerating product innovation, excelling at item-by-item management and supporting 7-Eleven's marketing efforts.
When 7-Eleven signed on to partner with Japanese animé favorite Domo last year, Hershey proposed and produced a cardboard standee of the brown furry character in just a few weeks, and recruited rival Mars Inc. to participate in the sales promotion, 7-Eleven reported. The two merchandised their signature products Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Mars' Snickers chocolate bars in the open mouth of the Domo display. During the promotion, the confectioners offered a $1-off coupon on the featured products with the purchase of a Big Gulp fountain drink.
"We are honored to be selected for the Retailer Initiative Award for the second time by 7-Eleven," Dave Onorato, vice president of Global Convenience Stores for The Hershey Co., said in a released statement. "To be recognized by a customer with the stature of 7-Eleven is an honor shared by all of our employees worldwide. Hershey and our convenience store team take great pride in the collaborative partnership that has been built over many years with 7-Eleven."
Hershey also improved sales with special offers on its products when bundled with a beverage purchase. Offers included a KitKat wafer bar with 7-Eleven coffee and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with a 20-ounce bottle of a Coca-Cola soft drink. The company lent its expertise to increase seasonal chocolate sales of Cadbury Eggs, which it distributes exclusively in the U.S. Hershey's efforts assisted 7-Eleven in lifting its confectionery category sales, the retailer reported.
"Hershey clearly embodies what it means to be a true category captain," Delgado-Jenkins said. "The collaborative leadership and merchandising initiative they provided in 2009 were significant sales drivers for the category."