Earlier in 2012, Red Bull revealed that they would be launching three new energy drink flavors in March 2013: Cranberry, Lime and Blueberry (BevW’ire’s analysis on why these new flavors will be successful can be found here). While those attending the NACS show in October were able to sample the new flavors during the announcement, others have not been so lucky and would have to wait until March. Fortunately, 7-Eleven and the energy drink manufacturer partnered to participate in an exclusive holiday program where the three new flavors (named the “Editions”) would be available nationwide in the U.S. convenience chain during Christmas. Will this action set a precedent where Red Bull launches their beverages in certain retailers exclusively for a short time period before releasing it to all grocery, convenience and merchandising retailers?
Based on 7-Eleven’s execution to support this exclusive arrangement it looks like the collaborative effort has been beneficial for both partners. 7-Eleven not only provided the typical cooler barrel, cooler clings, shelf danglers, but also supported the launch with outdoor banners, social media activity, and free coffee promo offers. With the strong support levels 7-Eleven provided, it would not be surprising to see Red Bull take part in exclusive arrangements again with 7-Eleven. After all, 7-Eleven is the largest U.S. distributor for the energy drink, and the caffeinated beverage is one of the retailer’s top moving products. This arrangement may not happen as easily with other retailers, since they would not have the same reach despite it being a fast moving product. However, the answer may ultimately depend on whether both parties can benefit from this exclusive arrangement, and whether the energy drink was supported to the same extent. It may stand a stronger chance being a convenience or petroleum-bar retailer than grocery customers since beverages are a larger part of their daily business.
Can this type of exclusive partnership happen in Canada? While exclusive beverages are not uncommon, the number of retailers in Canada are much smaller than in the U.S. The American retail system is much more fragmented than the Canadian retail landscape. This means that foregoing business with one retailer would be more detrimental to the manufacturer in Canada than in the U.S.
As retailers and manufacturers continue to partner up in efforts to attract consumers to their locations, the probability of finding products offered exclusively can be quite high in the U.S., but not just yet in Canada. Of course, if the same level of support was provided, there can be exceptions in the U.S. as well as Canada.