July 11, 2011, - 2:39 pm
As you probably know, today is 7-Eleven Day (get it–7/11?). The retail convenience store gives out 7/11 ounce free Slurpees every 7-Eleven Day (find your participating local 7-Eleven store), and I usually promote it on the site, as I like to let readers know about free stuff. I you live near a 7-Eleven store and have a family, it’s a nice free treat in a very poor Obamaconomy. I probably won’t partake, even though a 7-Eleven opened up near me, because Slurpees are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup (or chemicals for the sugar free version). Still, once a year or so won’t kill you. (For those who keep kosher, here is the kosher (and unkosher) Slurpee flavor list, but I don’t have the kosher 7-Eleven location list. Sorry.)
What I find interesting, though, is that free Slurpees at 7-Eleven is a day of higher revenue for 7-Eleven stores. It’s marketing genius because we know that most Americans won’t just stop at 7.11 ounces. They might buy a bigger Slurpee, gas, or other stuff:
oday 7-Eleven, the nation’s largest convenience store chain, expects to give away 5 million 7.11-ounce Slurpees on the chain’s unofficial birthday: 7/11. That’s roughly 1,000 freebie Slurpees per store.
No coupons. No catches. No questions asked. . . .
When they handed out 4.5 million Slurpee’s last July 11, a funny thing happened: Slurpee sales for the day rocketed 38%, says Nancy Smith, vice president of marketing.
That’s right: Folks bought more Slurpees, even though they could grab as many free tiny ones as they wanted. “You get a taste of it,” says Slurpee senior brand director Laura Gordon, “and you choose to have more.”
Perhaps. But many folks seem to be so enamored of the word “free” that they’ll spend whatever it takes to cash in. In many cases, customers will spend more on gasoline just to get to 7-Eleven and wait in line for a free Slurpee than the estimated $1 retail value of the corn-syrup-laden drink that has virtually no nutritional value.
“Slurpee drinkers are some of the most loyal fans we have,” Smith says. “They come here to have fun.” And while they’re in the store, Smith says, many buy other stuff, too.
What is it that drives consumers to chase after — even spend more to get — freebies? Denny’s has seen record crowds when it’s given away breakfasts. Ditto for free chicken wings at KFC and free doughnuts at Dunkin’ Donuts. “Free is magic,” says Barry Schwartz, professor of psychology at Swarthmore College. “If you offer something for free, people will gladly spend money to get it.”
Free or not, I’ve always liked 7-Eleven because it’s truly an innovative retailer, and I’ve written a lot about it on this site, over the years, including my pieces on 7-Eleven, which turns 84 today, and the Slurpee. Happy 7-Eleven Day. But, like I said, I won’t be paying the price in calories and sugar, but if you have kids, it’s a nice free treat for once and a while. Enjoy.
Tags: 7 Eleven, free, Free Slurpee Day, free slurpee's, free stuff, Freebies, kosher slurpees, Slurpee, Slurpee Day, Slurpees, swag