QSR January 2023
| C A N C - S T O R E S T H R E A T E N F A S T F O O D ? |
CAN REWARDS BRIDGE THE GAP? CASEY’S LAUNCHED ITS PLATFORM IN JANUARY 2020 AND IS CURRENTLY APPROACHING 6 MILLION MEMBERS.
Kum & Go, also based in the Midwest, decided to back a large effort to improve its foodmenu roughly two years ago. The brand wanted to put more of an emphasis on quick-service foods rather than the typical C-store menu, Jac Moskalik, VP of food innovation for the brand, says. That meant launching made-to-order options like sandwiches or bowls. Moskalik says customers responded well to the change, but the difficult part was conquering the stereotype that C-stores don’t feature restaurant-quality food. “All statistics show that once the consumers try our newmenu, they’re hooked. Once they try it, they come back,” Moskalik says. Natasha Ratzlaff, director of category management and food service at Kum& Go, adds there is a 68 percent customer retention rate. “The lines of convenience are blurring,” she says. One way Kum & Go found to engage consumers was to con tinue to offer grab-and-go items alongside its made-to-order menu. This allowed the brand to retain customers coming into the store on a time crunch, while also exposing them to broader offerings down the line. It’s not about ditching the convenience element—but rather being able to meet the need for any occa sion, the company says. In terms of dayparts, the morning is generally a time where C-stores thrive—people are on their way to work, they need gas, maybe they stop in to get a coffee. While in line, they might add on a bagel or breakfast burrito to their order. Moskalik notes about 54 percent of Kum& Go’s sales occur during the A.M. window. Though the brand still plans to innovate at breakfast, it expects to focus on the afternoon and evening dayparts as well. “Next year, all of our innovation is built around different occasions,” Moskalik says. On the other hand, Casey’s is a C-store looking to do the opposite. The chain already thrives in the afternoon and evening because of its established pizza business that brought in $1.2 bil lion in revenue last fiscal year. Because of that dinner strength, it has its sights set on beefing up breakfast. Pizza is part of that equa tion, too—Casey’s breakfast pizza, sold by the slice, has been a fan favorite for a while, TomBrennan, chief merchandising officer, says. However, about a year ago, Casey’s decided to do a breakfast
relaunch, complete with bean-to-cup coffee machines and the re-engineering of its breakfast burritos. “We’ve continued to see unit and dollar growth in that product,” Brennan says. “We’ve also taken a look at our breakfast sandwich lineup tomake sure that we are delivering the same quality that we deliver in our pizza. We’ve seen guests really engage with us, and it’s been very favorable.” One common thread between C-stores that operate well across their quick-service operations is a rewards program tied to dis counts at the pump. With recent inflation, consumers are looking to save on gas however they can. This gives C-store apps and their connected loyalty programs a leg up—consumers already have to buy gas; why not save some money by joining a loyalty program? At Kum & Go, a rewards program connected to its mobile app is an important way to drive transactions. The brand has tangi bly connected its app to fuel by allowing customers to unlock the pump and pay from their phones. “You can actually fuel up while not having to leave your car, with the exception of putting the pump inside of your vehicle,” Moskalik says. “Then you can actu ally shop for items inside the store while you’re fueling up and our fuel rewards are all linked in there.” Customers can also tailor rewards to get what they want, whether that is money off gas or a free food item. Casey’s launched its rewards platform in January 2020 and is currently approaching 6 million members, Brennan says. People earn points from money they spend at Casey’s and can redeem it for Casey’s cash to purchase in-store items; receive money off their gas, or a donation of those points to a local school through its cash for classrooms program. The brand also touts an active customer base: over 50 percent of its members are active in the app on a monthly basis, Brennan says. Kwik Trip’s mobile app is called Kwik Rewards, which Servais says customers use religiously to get money off of their gas. “The magic of rewards is cents off gallons,” Servais says. “That’s what drives loyalty in the C-store industry.” q
IsabellaSherk is a Staff Writer at QSR magazine. She can be reached at isherk@WTWHmedia.com .
JANUARY 2023 | QSR | www.qsrmagazine.com
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