This spring, 7-Eleven rolled out its own private label premium beer called Game Day, which is produced by City Brewing in LaCrosse, Wis. Executives figured that “since brands are weaker at that price segment they can capture the full margin rather than pay a premium to a supplier,” according to Harry Schuhmacher of Beer Business Daily. It was not the first time 7-Eleven has rolled out a private label beer, having taken a shot with Santiago imported beer in 2003.
So how’d it work this time? Not too well, said Bob Staffieri, general manager for Yost Family 7-Elevens in Las Vegas. “It just didn’t gain traction. We gave it every opportunity that we could pricewise, locationwise.”
The problem, he added, was that Game Day is being marketed as a premium brand. “I think it was just mismarketed, unfortunately. If they had done something with it as a generic beer, which I really believe it is after sampling it myself—it’s not up to the standard of a premium beer—I think they would have done well with it.”
Consumers, Staffieri continued, got a mixed message when, though touted as a premium, Game Day’s price was dropped to the budget level. “Customers still weren’t willing to take it.” The chain is currently marking it down to the $5.99 range for a 12-pack, he added.
Staffieri’s own stores are bringing Game Day’s engagement to an end. In fact, he pointed out, “We’ve had to do a price reduction just to get the product out of our stores before it went back.”
Premium beer customers, it turns out, are a lot like premium cigarette customers: brand loyalty is strong.
“If they are Budweiser drinkers they don’t care if Coors is on sale. If you are a person purchasing a premium beer, you are probably going to be brand conscious. If it had been marketed as a generic—a price category whose supporters aren’t nearly as brand conscious—more consumers would have been willing to try it,” he said. “We even had processes where we gave some of the beer away. If you came in and bought a six-pack of beer we gave you a couple of cans or bottles of Game Day beer, and we just had no luck with it.”