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    Exclusive: 7-Eleven Brands Go Global

    Details on the development of a global wine brand, and what's next for the convenience retailer's global merchandising initiative.

    By Mehgan Belanger

    NEW YORK -- Developing a private label wine brand to be sold worldwide in just six months seems nearly impossible, but that was exactly the case when convenience retailers 7-Eleven Inc. and Seven Eleven Japan coordinated efforts to bring Yosemite Road wine to fruition earlier this month.

    "By developing a global brand, 7-Eleven can better leverage our brand strength and scale with customers all over the world," Mark Herron, 7-Eleven senior product director for vault for Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc., told CSNews Online in an exclusive interview.

    Yosemite Road is sold in parent company Seven & I Holdings Co.'s 15,000 convenience, department and grocery stores in the U.S. and Japan. In the U.S., the wine will sell for $3.99, except for Florida, where it will sell for $4.99 due to state taxes.

    To develop the global product, 7-Eleven created a global customer Current Situation Analysis (CSA) to determine taste preferences and the value proposition. The retailer uses CSAs for many of its initiatives, and it includes conducting research on a situation using internal and external data, proposing a hypothesis, developing execution plans, executing the plans and reporting on results, explained Herron. It doesn't end there, however, as the retailer then learns from the results and may choose to adapt or change the plans to achieve better performance.

    As part of the CSA, 7-Eleven conducted research into consumer taste preferences in both the U.S. and Japan; determined top-selling wine varietals in both countries; and sampled wines from around the world in both the U.S. and Japan to determine what blends would work the best and satisfy tastes in both countries, Herron told CSNews Online.

    In addition, the selection of the two varietals for Yosemite Road -- a chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon -- came from the CSA. Those two styles are top sellers in the U.S. and Japan, according to Herron.

    "Creating the wine was fairly easy because the taste profiles were already somewhat similar in Japan and the U.S. California wine is dominant in the U.S. and growing in Japan, especially at this entry-level price point," said Herron. "Through our CSA, we knew we had to have these varietals to be creditable with the consumer at this price point."

    The Wine Group, which is the third-largest wine producer in the world, was selected as the supplier of the wine, "through a combination of tastings, quality reviews and value. We also needed to align each company's logistics model," said Herron. The supplier had already developed the Yosemite Road label and it had passed federal approval, allowing 7-Eleven to reduce the time to bring the product to market by several months, he added.

    The Yosemite Road wine brand is the first step in the retailing companies' global merchandising efforts.

    Another project on tap for mid to late 2010 through the global merchandising initiative is a premium wine, possibly from U.S. or Europe, said Herron, noting 7-Eleven is also currently working with several partners to develop a CSA for the project.

    Other items identified by Herron as possibilities for a global brand in the future are non-alcohol beverages and batteries.

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    By Mehgan Belanger
    • About Mehgan Belanger

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