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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- When introducing new products to its chain of 492 convenience stores, Holiday Stationstores Inc. tries to focus on four cornerstone elements: quality, value, selection and speed.
Recently, the chain added "fresh" and "healthy" to its list of desired terms as it developed a new foodservice offering. Prior to introducing its new fresh and healthy foodservice lineup less than a year ago, Holiday's offering had consisted of heat-and-serve products that required no preparation or handling, and appealed primarily to the chain's core customer base of adult males.
In an effort to create an offering that appeals to a wider variety of customers, Holiday partnered with Taher Inc., a contract foodservice management company that helped the c-store chain develop new fresh and healthy products and packaging.
"'Quality' in our food offering has been a discussion topic for quite some time — two or three years. Then quickly, we really got into 'fresh and healthy' as a term that correlated well with the term, 'quality,'" President and Chief Operating Officer Brent Blackey told CSNews Online.
"We try to make sure we appeal to those people who are on the go, and even though they're in a hurry and maybe multi-tasking at the time they stop in, that there's a quality offering there," he continued. "That's particularly true to the discerning female consumer and Millennials these days."
Minnesota-based Holiday has stores in nine Midwest states and Alaska, and chose a cross-section of 20 locations in the Twin Cities area for an initial in-store sampling of the new items. "We did the sampling right away," Blackey recalled. "We wanted people to really have an opportunity to taste and see. Once they tasted and tried it, we thought they'd be sold on it."
The retailer also repositioned its shelving and signage to make its fresh foods display appear more vibrant and appealing. Taher's team of culinary experts suggested the use of such phrases as "Chef Inspired Salads" and "Fresh Seasons Salads" to emphasize the high-quality ingredients. The offering officially launched in the 20 stores on April 1.
Currently, Holiday's lineup includes a Farmer's Market Salad; Garden Salad; Chicken, Pasta & Bleu Cheese Salad; and Berry, Walnut & Chicken Salad. The quality of these salads is intended to rival those found in popular mid-sized restaurants such as Applebee's or Panera Bread, Blackey explained. A Chicken Caesar Salad and Asian Chicken Salad are expected to debut in the first quarter of next year. The salads are priced at $4.99 each.
Additionally, Holiday offers a Turkey, Cherry & Almond Pasta Salad and Italian Pasta Salad, as well as three snack cup varieties: Grape & Cheese; Celery & Peanut Butter; and Apple & Caramel Icing. The pasta salads and snack cups are priced in the $2.69 to $2.89 range.
Holiday is currently in the process of staging a rollout to approximately 150 Twin Cities-area stores and plans a major launch in the New Year supported by an advertising campaign. It also continues to work with Taher to refine and enhance the offering.
"We want to walk before we start to run," Blackey concluded. "We want to make sure we build a solid foundation and let the marketing catch up to the product in the first half of 2014."
For more on Holiday Stationstores' new foodservice lineup, look in the January issue of Convenience Store News.