7-Eleven Inc. is giving lager lovers a break on beer prices. After introducing Yosemite Road proprietary wine to enthusiastic reviews last year, the world’s leading convenience retailer thinks it has another winner with Game Day, a new store-brand premium lager beer.
Comparable in taste and quality to the top-selling national brand beers, Game Day is available in two varieties – Light and Ice – and two package sizes – 24-ounce singles and a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans. Suggested retail price is between $6.99 and $8.99 for a 12-pack, and $1.49 and $1.89 for a single. Prices vary based on distribution costs and state and local alcohol beverage taxes.
“American beer drinkers are seeking great-tasting beer at an affordable price,” said Dan Skinner, 7-Eleven® category manager for alcohol beverages. “Even more so in this tough economy, they’re looking for value and ways to make their dollar go further. Game Day satisfied two of a beer drinker’s interests by offering a premium lager beer at a below-premium price.”
Beer sales have historically been recession-proof; however, the prolonged downturn in the economy has changed the purchasing habits of many U.S. beer drinkers. According to data from The Nielsen Company and other industry experts, value-priced beer sales are on the rise while sales of pricier imports and premium brands have faltered. Beer sales at 7-Eleven stores reflect that, with below-premium and budget beer now the fastest-growing segment. Premium brands still dominate the mix with volume reaching 1.5 billion cases in 2009, or half of all beer sold in the U.S., but sales were down compared to 2008.
Prices rose last year on premium brands as major brewers tried to cover increased fuel and grain costs. The higher prices proved too much for many loyal customers who began opting for lower-priced brews.
As the third largest beer retailer in the U.S., 7-Eleven saw an opportunity to fill a niche. After scoring huge successes across multiple store categories with dozens of other value-priced, high quality, private-label products sold under its 7-Select brand, 7-Eleven’s merchandising team determined that creating premium quality alcoholic beverages at value prices was a logical next step. In just five months since being introduced, sales of 7-Eleven’s Yosemite Road proprietary wines are now No. 1 and No. 2, ahead of best-selling branded reds and whites from well-known wineries. So why not try to duplicate that success with beer?
To assist in the development process, 7-Eleven partnered with the Winery Exchange and its subsidiary, World Brews – one of the leading independent producers of premium quality beers from the U.S., Latin America and Holland. World Brews brought extensive brewing expertise and strong relationships in the brewing and wholesale beverage communities.
City Brewery in La Crosse, Wis., the heart of America’s brew country, was tapped by the Winery Exchange/World Brews for the tall task: to create a great-tasting beer that was equal to or better than the top-selling premium. Capacity was not an issue. The historic 150+-year-old brewery, one of the largest contract brewers in the country, produces and packages millions of cases of beer, flavored malt beverages, and even teas, energy drinks and soft drinks.
Light beer is the most popular flavor profile among beer drinkers. Of the top 20 brands by sales, numbers 1, 2 and 3 are all light varieties and they make up more than half of the list, according to Beverage World’s 2009 Beer Report. Creating a 7-Eleven version seemed like a logical choice. For its second brew, 7-Eleven selected an Ice Ale variety with a bolder taste and higher alcohol content to appeal to younger, legal-age drinkers.
Brewed with the highest quality malts and hops, Game Day Light (110 calories per 12 ounces, 3.9 percent alcohol by volume) has a clean, crisp taste with a smooth malt finish while the hops flavor is bolder in Game Day Ice (155 calories per 12 ounces, 5.5 percent alcohol by volume).
The decrease of consumer dollars spent in restaurants and bars may also be helping retail beverage sales. “More people are choosing to save money by entertaining at home rather than going out,” Skinner said. “Take-home 12-packs are the perfect size for a backyard barbecue, when going over to friends to watch a ballgame or enjoying a picnic at the lake. Game Day offers a great product at a great price in the perfect package size for entertaining.”
In reference to the product’s name Skinner said, “Beer and sports have a natural affinity for each other. When it came time to brand the product, the development team realized that our customers not only like beer, they love sports. The name Game Day was perfect.”
Some studies show that beer drinkers trade down to a less expensive beer during the week, but splurge on a premium, super-premium, import or craft beer on the weekend. Skinner added, “We think Game Day is ideal to drink all week long, or as we like to say at 7-Eleven – ‘Every day is Game Day’.”
Game Day Light and Game Day Ice are expected to be for sale in 4,200 7-Eleven stores (those that sell full-strength beer) in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois*, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Texas,* Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia*.
*As of April 20, 2010, Game Day will be available at participating 7-Eleven stores in Texas, West Virginia and Illinois, pending approval from these states’ alcohol beverage control commissions/boards.
About 7-Eleven, Inc.
7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience retailing industry. Based in Dallas, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses close to 8,200 7-Eleven® stores in North America. Globally, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 38,000 stores in 16 countries. During 2008, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $53.7 billion. 7-Eleven has been honored by a number of companies and organizations recently. Accolades include: #3 spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list for 2009, #3 in Forbes magazine’s Top 20 Franchises to Start, #3 among Top 100 Global Franchises by Franchise Direct, #3 in Store Growth by Convenience Store News, #2 in Franchise Times Top 200 Franchise Companies and #29 among Top 100 Chains in Food Service. In addition, Hispanic Magazine named 7-Eleven in its Hispanic Corporate Top 100 Companies that provide the most opportunities to Hispanics. 7-Eleven recently was selected by three diversity publications as a company offering the best career and franchisee opportunities. 7-Eleven is franchising its stores in the U.S. and is expanding through organic growth, acquisitions and its Business Conversion Program. In addition, the company received the 2009 Shopper-Centric Marketing Innovation from Symphony IRI and the 2010 Retailer of the Year award from PL Buyer for the company’s private-label brand program. Find out more online at www.7-Eleven.com.