July 11, 2011, - 2:39 pm

Free Slurpee Day: Big Business For 7-Eleven

By Debbie Schlussel

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.

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5 Responses

Well Deb I went to 7/11’s website, checked for a store near me by typing in my zip code. And sure enough there is one near me…10 miles away in Norwalk, CT. The closest 4 stores are in Westchester County, NY.

As for me, my fave cold things come from Dunkin Donuts. Their Iced Coffee is wonderful and I take mine with milk and Splenda. I don’t go for the Coolattas and the like though they have a cherry one to tie in with the upcoming Captain America movie. But still on the cups, you get Cap’s mighty shield.

The other thing is iced tea. Has that brewed flavor and again I vouch for Splenda instead of the sugar or HFCS and they give you a lemon wedge if you ask for it. They have an offer going on…any size tea for 99 cents. Sure it’s not free, but it’s the next best thing.

Bob Porrazzo on July 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Oh wow. I was just in a 7-Eleven today! As of this year, they are my favourite convenience store. They are super-clean (and I am working near one that is spotless in a very grungy town!) and their coffee is very inexpensive and tastes so much better.

In fact, when I go into my local Dunkin’ Donuts cafe…I’ll buy a bagel there and first buy my coffee at 7-Eleven few doors down. I’m not much of a coffee drinker but I love flavoured coffees and ice coffee (in season). Dunkin’ Donuts I will only buy if there is nothing else available as I am not crazy about the taste. I do like their frozen hot chocolate thou’.

I, too dislike high-fructose corn syrup and avoid it if I can. I don’t like Slurpees but they have flavourful ice coffee that you can mix together…and 7-Eleven provides lots of other flavour enhancers (flavoured cream, syrups and spices and even mini-marshmallows.)

When it’s cold, they have the funkiest flavours in hot-chocolate and cappuccinos..
right now they have a raspberry caramel and in the fall they have a fabulous blood-orange hot chocolate. I also love the peanut-butter hot chocolate, the banana split cappuccino and the creme brulee cappuccino.

So yeah, there price is super-cheap and the flavours extaordinary!

Skunky on July 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm

The 7-11 on Coolidge in Oak Park, MI does have Kosher Slurpees.

P. Aaron on July 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Out here in Simi Valley, California, many of the 7-11s are owned by muslims from India and I won’t patronize their stores or gas stations. A few are owned by Sikh, but now thanks to ignorant American bigots, many of the younger Sikh do not wear their turbans or beards because of abuse by ignoramuses who cannot distinguish between the two or between muslims and Hindus, for that matter. Because of this, I have learned ways to determine if the owner is muslim or not, but I have also discovered that some muslim owners are wise to this and will lie. Fortunately, our town is fairly small and I have a Sikh friend who I can ask if I’m not sure; he doesn’t know who the muslims are, but he knows all the Sikh from his temple and he can tell me if they really are Sikh or muslims who are lying.

DS_ROCKS! on July 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

There are no 7-11s in the Carolinas. I hate that. We had them here for years, but they sold the territory to Circle K. Slurpees are better than Icees and all other copies. I miss them.

Fleiter on July 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm

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