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    Nice N Easy Starts Its Own Kind of March 'Madness'

    C-store chain will unveil NNEASY Snack Madness, pitting snacks against each other to determine a champion.

    By Brian Berk, Convenience Store News

    CANASTOTA, N.Y. -- March 1 can mean a lot of different things to different people. For some, the start of the Spring season comes to mind. For others, spring training baseball is cause for excitement.

    But perhaps nothing is bigger this month than "March Madness," otherwise known as the NCAA college basketball tournament. To capitalize on the success of the tournament, Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes is creating a little madness of its own. The convenience store chain will hold "NNEASY Snack Madness" throughout the month.

    The tournament pits 32 top snack products against each other to determine a "Snack Champion," which will be crowned on April 2, the same day the NCAA champion will be determined at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

    Snack Madness is a single-elimination tournament that matches snacks against each other in the Cookie & Cake, Alternative Snack, Salty Snack and Candy divisions. The No. 1 seed will square off against the No. 8 seed; the No. 2 seed against No. 7; No. 3 vs. No. 6.; and No. 4 battles No. 5. Winners keep advancing one round until the champion is named.

    Jared Sturtevant, Nice N Easy's director of marketing, said his 72-mile daily commute to work affords him a lot of time to think, and this tournament was one of his thoughts. He ran the idea by Matt Paduano, the c-store chain's vice president of category management, and an idea was born.

    To determine how snacks would receive their respective seed rankings, the company's analyst provided performance data for the different snack divisions, Sturtevant told CSNews Online. "Then our 'bracketologists' ranked the snacks by both points scored and income earned. The top seeds were obvious, but we had to consider other factors such as historical play, clout and swagger as we went deeper into the rankings to ensure we secured interesting matchups for the tournament," he explained.

    Earning the coveted top seeds are Little Debbie Mini Donuts in the Cookie & Cake division, Slim Jim Giant in the Alternative Snack division, Doritos in the Salty Snack division and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the Candy division.

    To deem which snack wins each head-to-head matchup, Nice N Easy will pose the question on its Facebook page. "The winners of each matchup will be determined by comments on those posts," said Sturtevant. "The first round [beginning March 6] will be played in eight days over a two-week period. There will be two primetime matchups scheduled each night with a three-day rest period before the 'Sweet & Salty 16' and the 'Elite Ate,' and then [there will be] one day off before the final four snacks play for a shot at the title."

    The NNEASY Snack Madness winner will be featured on Nice N Easy's Facebook page with free coupons for fans of the convenience store chain.

    To further promote the contest, Nice N Easy is displaying in-store signs that include a quick response (QR) code linking smartphone users to its Facebook page.

    In addition, Nice N Easy Marketing Assistant Brieanne Stokes created a NNEASY Snack Madness logo to further promote the tournament.

    By Brian Berk, Convenience Store News
    • About Brian Berk Brian Berk is managing editor of Stagnito Business Information's Convenience Store News and Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner, where he specializes in covering motor fuels, technology and financial news. He has served the magazine industry for 14 years and has also worked in the radio and newspaper fields. Berk holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the State University of New York at Cortland and a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

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