7-Eleven Working Up Mo-Joe Blends

Brazilian Bold mug Convenience store 7-Eleven is ramping up its efforts to grab some Starbucks. The company is aiming to woo cash-conscious consumers--who still crave premium java--away from higher-priced brands with a trio of new blends: Colombian, Exclusive Blend and the stronger Brazilian Bold*, all included in the chain's hot beverage bars.

The Brazilian Bold product will be marketed to younger consumers, who favor stronger coffee, per the company.

The new varieties, with suggested retail prices ranging from 99 cents to $1.79, will be added to the current decaffeinated and flavored coffees, four flavored syrups, four toppings, flavored cappuccino drinks, teas and assortment of creamers at the company's 5,000 plus stores.

A company spokesperson said marketing support will include radio ads in 22 markets that also tout 7-Eleven's Meal Deal; radio promotions; a branded mug for purchase at stores; promotional posters at mass transit such as Long Island Railroad stations and Chicago bus shelters; and mobile billboards in four markets.



The Dallas-based company began fighting for coffee market share in earnest last February with a multimillion-dollar ad push, with a "freshness guaranteed" theme. With tags that include "Our coffee's fresher than your average Joe" and "Guaranteed fresh or we'll brew it new," the convenience store chain is seeking to convince coffee drinkers that it has a commitment to quality.

The company last fall rolled out a private-label brand, 7-Select, comprising 32 snack items.

According to a study last year by Packaged Facts on the estimated $44 billion retail and food service coffee market, more frugal spending by consumers is having a major impact on coffee, with consumers eschewing expensive coffee concoctions. Citing the National Coffee Association's 2008 survey, Packaged Facts says 17% of Americans drink a gourmet coffee beverage every day. Packaged Facts says coffeehouses numbers have increased in number from 500 in 1991 to over 25,300 today.

Quick-serve and convenience stores have benefited from the specialty and premium coffee boom, with Dunkin' Donuts now selling about 1.5 billion cups of coffee per year, per the company, which says it is the top coffee seller among quick-serve restaurants. Packaged Facts notes that when McDonald's launched Premium Roast drip three years ago, its sales increased 40%, and it now has McCafe specialty coffee counters with baristas within its stores. And 7-Eleven introduced an iced cappuccino drink last year, Slurpuccino.

*Editor's note: The story was amended post publication.

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