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    7-Eleven Launches 7-Select

    The convenience retailer unveils a private label snack line of sweet, salty and meat snacks. Meanwhile, it also partners with J.C. Penney Co. for Black Friday cross-promotion.

    DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. will launch a new line of 32 private-label products this month under the brand 7-Select, with items including cookies, candy, nuts, potato chips, beef jerky, trail mix with whole cashews and real M&Ms, chocolate-covered pretzels, coffee espresso beans, raisins and peanuts, the company stated.

    The new items’ suggested retail prices offer a significant savings up to 10 to 20 percent vs. the national brand equivalent, according to the company.

    "When we began to develop products under the 7-Select name, our first and foremost requirement was to create high-quality products that were equal to or better than the national brands," Kevin Elliott, 7-Eleven senior vice president for merchandising and logistics, said in a statement. "Focus groups verified that we exceeded that goal by scoring taste, texture and flavor profiles higher than the name brand equivalent in every case."

    7-Eleven also cited consumers’ budget tightening in the face of a weak economy as reasons to further its involvement in the money-saving private label arena. The convenience chain also cited a recent survey by The Nielsen Co.—parent of CSNews Online—which found nearly three out of four American consumers believe store brands are good alternatives to national brands, and more than 60 percent consider them to be just as good. To see more about this report, click here.

    "Convenience stores’ ‘bread-and-butter’ items—snacks and beverages—remain a relatively untouched category for private label and present tremendous opportunities for growth, especially in a lean economy when consumers have a heightened awareness of the cost of goods and are actively seeking out ways to stretch their dollars," Elliott said.

    "I think the great prices and 7-Select name will entice customers to try these new snacks," he added, "but the quality is what will keep them coming back."

    The new 7-Select products had to meet or beat name-brand quality, and beat the name brand’s price or offer a better value, through a lower price or more product for the same price, the company stated.

    Some of the new 7-Select items were piloted in 1,500 stores in Florida and the Mid-Atlantic area in May. Of the original 31 items first tested, 26 were selected for the initial launch, and several new candy items were added, 7-Eleven stated. Customers showed "immediate interest" in the new items, which were showcased with in-store displays and point-of-purchase signage, the company said. Sales continue to steadily climb, and many of the items are already outselling the name brand, according to the company.

    "We have selected only top suppliers to develop and produce 7-Select snacks, and many also manufacture similar products for the recognized national brands and other top private-label retailers," Elliott said. "New 7-Select items are already in the pipeline, and we plan to widen our assortment in early 2009."

    In addition, 7-Eleven’s private-label bottled water, sold under the name of Quality Classic Selection, will soon convert to the 7-Select brand. By the end of the first quarter 2009, the company expects to have more than 180 private-label items available for its customers.

    "The 7-Select name builds on the strength of the 7-Eleven brand and will help define who we are as a retailer, much as our Slurpee and Big Gulp beverages have over the past 40 years," Elliott said. "7-Eleven is known for its unique brands and assortment of quality products. 7-Select snacks will certainly strengthen our position as the preferred convenience store for value, quality and convenience."

    In other 7-Eleven news, the convenience retailer also began a cross promotion with department store chain J.C. Penney Co. for locations in Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, in an effort to generate incremental sales, the Dallas Morning News reported.

    As part of the promotion, Penney stores are distributing fliers for a free 12-ounce cup of coffee at 7-Eleven stores, valid for the weekend of Black Friday. And at 7-Eleven checkout and coffee counters, displays will feature tear pads with Penney coupons good for $10 off purchases of $50 this Saturday, according to the report.

    Experts said retailers are getting creative to lure customers in.

    "Smart retailers are coming up with good ideas. This nasty crisis is just bringing out the creativity of the survivors," Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, told the paper.

    This is the first time 7-Eleven has engaged in a cross-promotion with a clothing or department store, Margaret Chabris, spokeswoman for the convenience store chain, told the paper.

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