Free Slurpee Day has proven to be an attractive customer goodwill gesture and a clever marketing strategy for 7-Eleven, as its convenience stores around the country planned to churn out the icy drink in high numbers on Thursday.
July 11, or 7/11, is the annual day for the 7-Eleven free Slurpee day promotion, which has taken on a life of its own, according to Time magazine
. In fact, the free Slurpees will be a little bigger this year, according to Time's Brad Tuttle. He said instead of going with a 7.11-ounce free Slurpee, this year 7-Eleven is simply giving out Slurpees in its usual small size 12 ounces.
"Moms asked us for cups with lids," Laura Gordon, vice president of marketing and brand innovation, told USA Today
. She told the newspaper the old 7.11-ounce cups don't have lids. "That means less mess in the car."
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Gordon said 7-Eleven estimates that it will give away seven million Slurpees on Thursday at a retail value of $7.6 million, but believes it will pay off in other sales and repeat customer loyalty.
"It helps us reconnect with people who love the Slurpee," Gordon said.
Gordon said some of the biggest sellers on Free Slurpee day are potato chips, beef jerky and hot dogs.
7-Eleven, strangely enough, gets a spike in purchased Slurpees on this day while giving away the freebies. Company spokesmen reported actual purchases of Slurpees jumped 38 percent in 2010 during the free giveaway.
"Now, I can understand how a consumer swinging by a store to snag a freebie might buy something else while there," said Tuttle of Time. "But paying for a product on the day it’s given out for free? This is weird territory. Seems sorta along the lines of the power of free supermarket samples, in which customers feel obligated or somehow justify buying stuff simply because they’ve been given something without paying for it."
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Some suggest that the Slurpee giveaway actually strikes at the heart of the 7-Eleven customer base, pointing to the fact that Slurpee has five million fans on Facebook, according to USA Today.
"Slurpee is the back-to-the-future part of our culture," Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York branding consulting firm Landor Associates, told USA Today. "For teens on a budget, 'free' is a great motivator — especially on a hot, summer day when they have nothing else to do."
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