The funny thing about most convenience stores is that they have a history of trying to "correct" consumer thinking--usually by arguing them into submission.
Consider the typical convenience-store advertising campaign: Our prices really aren't high; our produce really is fresh; our service really is superfriendly. They seem to focus on changing perceptions of "light" users as much as building preference among "core" users.
Wanting to stand apart from the crowd, am/pm Mini Market asked Rubin Postaer and Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., to help position its chain within the category and build a stronger emotional bond with its customers.
During our planning process, we learned that am/pm doesn't need to follow conventional wisdom and try to convince consumers to go to convenience stores: They already go. And they like what am/pm stands for.
Am/pm isn't the same as every other convenience store. Instead of wasting space on so-called necessities such as motor oil, diapers and fresh veggies, am/pm stores are filled with impulse foods such as candy, snacks and beverages. In those categories, am/pm offers the widest variety of choices. The soda fountains serve Coke and Pepsi products.
In focus groups, consumers talked about the fun and indulgence of visiting an am/pm. They loved all the soda-fountain options--from soft drinks to sundaes ("I can make them exactly the way I want to"). They talked about standing at the register, looking down at the "five for a dollar" bins and finding themselves reaching for a handful of candy bars.
You go in for a Coke, they'd say, and you can't help buying a bag of Doritos or a Snickers bar. It's "the junk food store" exploding with all the great stuff they really want.
We spent an entire day observing consumers in their natural habitat--the store--and we learned that "impulse" is actually an understatement.
Customers would be eating their Icee, munching on a hot dog or sucking down a 64-ounce Mountain Dew before they even got to the register.
Consumers taught us we didn't need to be embarrassed about who we were. We didn't need to explain away supposed category negatives. Instead, we needed to embrace what consumers already believed. Our creative challenge was to capture that irrational, satisfy-my-want, don't-waste-my-time-with-the-facts feeling and claim it for am/pm--the place catering to the "me, me, me!" in all consumers.
During creative development research, the "Too much good stuff" campaign emerged as a favorite because it illustrated the truth of the brand: Am/pm is so finely tuned to satisfying wants, it brings out desires customers aren't always willing to admit they have. The spots showed customers walking into an am/pm with a set agenda--buy a pack of gum or just a couple of sodas--and walking out with their agenda completely overturned.
Since breaking in April 1996, "Too much good stuff" has been a hit. Tracking scores show am/pm is up in usage, brand impression and key attributes. The campaign has proven effective at the cash register, too, with sales versus the prior year up significantly during advertising periods.
Consumers are reacting because am/pm makes a proud, not apologetic, statement about the kind of place they want to go.
Karen Eadon, VP, Retail Marketing Programs
Kirt Danner, Mgr., Advertising Sales
Ginny Stellato, Dir., Marketing Research
Jeanette Fritz, Research Analyst
Gary Wenzel, Sr. VP, Dir. Account Services
Patrick Collins, VP, Business Development
Liz Mason, VP, Management Supervisor
Mark Lantz, Assoc. Dir., Account Planning
Julie Liss, Account Planner
David Smith, VP, Assoc. Creative Dir.
Joe Baratelli, VP, Assoc. Creative Dir.