7-Eleven serves itself a Big Gulp of TV amid renewed convenience store interest

Chain doubles marketing investment, debuts new campaign from 360i

Published On
Apr 28, 2021

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7-Eleven is doubling its marketing investment this year as the chain seeks to attract new customers amid renewed interest in the convenience store sector. The 94-year-old chain known for Slurpees and Big Gulps today debuted a large-scale campaign that includes its largest TV investment in six years.

7-Eleven worked with 360i on the “Take It to Eleven” push, which includes four TV commercials broken up into 15-and 30-second clips and a robust social media presence. In one of the feel-good spots, a dancing roller skater is fueled by a Slurpee. In another, a group of pompadour-sporting coffee drinkers engage in an impromptu parking lot dance party. While the chain advertised on TV last year in a product-focused campaign, this is its first brand campaign since 2015, a spokeswoman says.

7-Eleven, which is owned by Japanese retail company Seven & I Holdings, is spending more than twice as much in 2021 than the Dallas, Texas-based chain spent in 2020.

The investment is meant to capture more market share of the convenience store sector, which has grown during the pandemic as consumers frequented their local shops for everyday essentials and groceries. Last year, convenience store in-store sales grew 1.5% to $255.6 billion, a record, according to NACS, a trade association for convenience and fuel retailing. NACS also reports that basket size increased 18.4% to $7.34 on average in 2020 compared with 2019.

That sales trend is continuing through this spring, with sales in gas and convenience stores for the week ended April 4 up 20% over the same period in 2019, according to market research firm Numerator.

7-Eleven says that it has seen basket size grow “significantly,” according to a spokeswoman, who attributed the rise to customers buying in bulk including grocery items normally bought elsewhere, during the pandemic.

To keep up with new shopping habits and demand, the retailer has partnered with delivery services such as Uber Eats, Grubhub and Instacart. The 70,000-unit chain has also introduced new concept stores, called “Evolution stores,” that serve as a testing ground for new innovations including a drive-through restaurant.