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NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store suppliers are a major part of capturing consumer interest. Convenience Store News will regularly highlight such efforts in this roundup.
Here are the latest supplier spotlights:
The Busch brand will return to NASCAR by sponsoring Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 team of Stewart-Haas Racing for select races, starting with the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Busch, Busch Light and other special-edition Busch paint schemes will be featured on Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet SS for 12 races in 2016.
"Busch's NASCAR roots go back to 1978 and we're thrilled to reconnect with these passionate fans that identify with our 'Here's to Earning It' message on a daily basis," said Chelsea Phillips, director of value brands, Anheuser-Busch. "Kevin and the entire No. 4 team have been tremendous partners for Anheuser-Busch since 2011 and we have exciting plans to engage with the NASCAR community both on and off the track nationwide in 2016."
To celebrate its return to the sport, Busch will employ a comprehensive marketing approach to engage with racing enthusiasts and loyal Busch consumers through on-track, experiential, in-market and retail activations during the 2016 NASCAR season, according to the announcement.
In other Anheuser-Busch news, Bud Light, the official beer sponsor of the National Football League, is introducing the Bud-E Fridge as the first-of-its-kind smart home beer fridge that lets consumers view real-time information from their refrigerator on their mobile device. This includes the number of Bud Light cans and bottles inside and when they reach the optimal temperature.
Developed by Bud Light, Buzz Connect and Linq IQ, the Bud-E-Fridge and its mobile app also lets sports fans program their favorite teams so it can keep them up to date on when games are approaching, at which point it will let them know if their game day supply of Bud Light needs replenishing. As fans restock their fridge, which has a 78-beer capacity, the Bud-E Fridge updates the stock level in real-time.
"We are constantly looking for innovative ways to enhance the consumer's experience and the Bud-E Fridge represents an unprecedented advance," said Lucas Herscovici, vice president of connections at Anheuser-Busch. "With the Bud-E Fridge, we've created something that shows how we continue to push the boundaries in technology and innovation, particularly in the connected home of the future, and provide beer drinkers with a new level of convenience to better enjoy Bud Light with their friends."
Coors Brewing Co.
Coors Light released the mobile game, Coors Light Super Refresh-Men, for iOs and Android devices. The 8-bit, brawler type video game challenges legal-drinking-age players to save the Rockies and deliver ice-cold refreshing Coors Light, expanding on the success of the original 2014 game, Coors Light Refresh-Men. This year, Super Refresh-Men will also expand to Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
"Super Refresh-Men is bigger and better this year, featuring new levels, storylines, bad guys, moves and power-ups," said Danielle Rappoport, senior marketing manager for Coors Light. "Fans of classic games will love the nostalgic look and feel of the game, whether battling Scorcher solo on the mobile game or playing with friends as Avalanche or Rocky on an Xbox console."
Players can select one of four Super Refresh-Men characters to battle through five levels and collect Coors Light along the way. The simple storyline and 8-bit style with overly pixelated imagery, bright colors and arcade-style typography is characteristic of brawler games of the 1980s, but with the modern twist of agents on a mission to deliver refreshing Coors Light to those in need, the company said.
DeMet's Candy Co.
DeMet's Candy Co., the maker of classic candy brands Turtles Caramel Nut Clusters and Flipz pretzels, launched phase one of a $41-million expansion plan of its Big Flats, N.Y., facility with a groundbreaking ceremony held Sept. 24.
The first phrase of the expansion will add approximately 20,000 square feet to the site and increase production capacity by roughly 50 percent while creating 20 new full-time jobs. It will also add a new research and development lab and new processing lines to enable further innovation and a broader range of products. Additionally, as part of the investment, aging equipment will be upgraded and new technologies will be employed to increase operational excellence.
Phase one will be fully operational by July 2016. Phase two will roll out in 2018 and add manufacturing lines and up to 50 more full-time jobs. The overall plan also includes expanded working space and employee services.
"The expansion is part of a long-term strategy to unlock further growth for Turtles and Flipz and expand DeMet's Candy Co.'s operations," said CEO Trip Tripathy said. "We aim to grow our business 20-25 percent over the next three years."
Fuel rewards company Drop Tank launched a new fuel discount offer with Groupon. The initial Groupon offer launched in the Indianapolis market, consists of five CentsOff Marathon gift cards and sells for $40.
Each card is worth 10 cents off per gallon for 100 gallons, a $50 value. The cards are swiped prior to payment at participating Marathon gas stations and instantly drop the price.
"Our cards make great gifts because dropping the price at the pump is fun and everyone appreciates saving on gas," said Drop Tank CEO David VanWiggeren. "Working with Groupon is a natural fit because Groupon customers know a good deal when they see one."