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ANDERSON, Ind. -- Ricker Oil Co's "Ricker Pop," the name of its own-brand fountain offering, has brought a fierce loyalty among customers to its more than 60 c-stores headquartered here, according to a report in the Herald Bulletin.
The success of the fountain offering comes from dedicated execution at the stores, as well as consistency.
"We go through so much volume that everything is very fresh, fresh, fresh," company President Jay Ricker told the paper. "A lot of competitors don’t go through the kind of volume we do, so they may have slightly older product going through their fountains." He added; "We get asked, ‘Do you put something special in it?’ We don’t, although we’ll kid people occasionally. It’s just that we’re doing all the basics right."
Despite yearly price increases from vendors Coke and Pepsi, Ricker Pop has retailed for 59, 69 and 79 cents for nearly 15 years, Ricker said. The top flavors in stores are Pepsi, Coke and Mountain Dew, and the chain offers chewy ice, according to the report. Ricker Pop customers are so loyal to the brand that in the instance of a machine shutdown, customers will visit the store later, rather than purchase a packaged beverage, the report stated.
"Compare it to, let’s say, a McDonald’s," Keith Broviak, marketing director for Ricker Oil, told the paper. "Anywhere that you go in the country, you know that you can go into a McDonald’s and order a Big Mac. And you’re going to get a consistent taste throughout the country. When people come to a Ricker’s, they don’t have to think about whether they can get a Coke, a Diet Coke, a Pepsi, a Diet Pepsi, or whatever. They just know that it’s going to be there, and they’re going to get it at a consistent price and quality."
And although the economy is forcing consumers to cut back in some areas, Ricker Pop is not included, according to the report.
"In this economy, Ricker Pop is an ‘affordable pleasure,'" said Ricker.
The marketing success of Ricker Pop even played a hand in creating the c-store chain's name. In the early 1990s, owners Jay and Nancy Ricker hired a branding company to research a name for their stores, but were told they already had a name, the paper reported.
Many of their customers began saying, "I’m going to get a Ricker’s Pop."
"After [the company] did the research, they said, ‘Well, duh. Your customers have named you: You’re ‘Ricker’s,'" Ricker told the Bulletin.