Retailers are increasingly taking a community-first approach to marketing, leveraging their understanding of local industries embedded in local culture to build brand awareness and relationships with consumers. But what happens when a retailer is acquired by an international business without that local knowledge? 7-Eleven Australia has successfully used partnerships with aligned and unexpected Australian brands to elevate and position itself to be a lot more than just a convenience s
e store chain. Now that the brand has been acquired by parent company 7-Eleven International (7IN), the meaningful relationships based on pop-culture and community could disappear in 7-Eleven Australia’s partnerships. Creative agency Andpeople specialises in this strategy and curated a campaign consisting of various activations for Adidas Originals to harness youth culture and community, through a month-long celebration of creative pioneers and emerging Australian talent. Experiences across Melbourne and Sydney celebrated hospitality, art, entertainment, fashion, beauty and floristry. Similarly, 7-Eleven Australia’s recent collaboration with popular Sydney “anti-resortwear” label Double Rainbouu proves that it has become much more than a convenience store.. The convenience of unexpected partnerships In 1976, the Withers and Barlow families signed the licence agreement for 7-Eleven Australia and opened the first store in Victoria a year later, 1977. Today, the business has a footprint of 750 stores operating nationally, and its growth and profitability presented an attractive value proposition, with 7IN acquiring the business back for $1.71 billion, just shy of the initial $2 billion asking price. 7-Eleven’s local approach to business through strategic partnerships with established and emerging Australian brands and culture has been the key to its success in Australia. Last year’s launch of 7-Eleven-branded coffee body scrub for $1 was an unexpected collaboration with Australia’s number one pureplay online retailer Adore Beauty. This year, it upped the ante by partnering with anti-resortwear label Double Rainbouu, with a collection as cool as its slurpees. The ‘high vibe’ collection is available exclusively through the Double Rainbouu online store, and was designed by its founder and creative director, Mikey Nolan, the former creative director of Ksubi. Similarly to the $1 coffee scrub, the pricing of the limited-edition capsule pays homage to 7-Eleven Australia’s strong brand identity in the headline Hawaiian shirt, retailing for $71.11. The campaign further aids in creating brand allegiance with the local market by offering an incentive to sign up to the 7-Eleven loyalty program with a 10 per cent discount on the capsule available to members. Nolan told Inside Retail that “Double Rainbouu was launched as an antidote to traditional resort brands. In many ways we sell the idea of paradise 24/7 and see 7-Eleven as a similar oasis. So, the whole concept was about the synergy of both brands selling ‘Paradise 24/7.’” Adam Jacka, head of marketing at 7-Eleven, said he “jumped at the opportunity to work with such an iconic brand that plays a part in every Aussie summer, including my own. Who doesn’t love a store that is there for your needs any hour of the day or night!” The alignment of the brands’ bold, optimistic, and inclusive essence and a limited-edition Hawaiian shirt paired with an iconic value proposition was yet another bold move. Culture first community marketing Tapping into other industries embedded in Australian culture is an approach to marketing that puts community at the “heart of strategy, understanding and making meaningful connections within culture and the authentic and symbiotic relationships they tend to build on behalf of brands as a result,” principal of at Glass PR, Adriana Glass told Inside Retail. “What’s interesting to me is the approach Andpeople take and have become known for is very much culture first,” she said. Internationally, the parent company has partnered with Brooklyn community based sports media company Overtime and Easy Otabar to create a basketball centric apparel collection. Other international pop-culture collaborations include the Crocs and Mario Kart partnerships. Simon Porter, head of retail at media agency Hatched, told Inside Retail, “Brand collaborations have been central to placing 7-Eleven at the forefront of convenience retailing in Australia and arguably at the heart of pop-culture. The essence of which has been the bravery with which they’ve embraced the unconventional and thinking differently to other retailers. Embracing collaborations with iconic local brands like Adore Beauty have grounded them in local pop culture in a way that really cuts through.” Could 7-Eleven Australia’s unique brand identity in the market be lost with the sale, along with the thoughtful marketing partnerships that are uniquely relevant to the local market and culture? If anything, the acquisition only looks to further increase 7-Eleven’s brand identity in Australia, with more stores on the cards, and the new owners likely to continue to market with a culture-first approach through partnerships that look to embed the brand within local culture. “I don’t think the approach to brand collaboration will necessarily change, they’ll continue to embrace the unconventional but we might start to see some of their iconic collaborations from overseas brought to Australia and leveraging more influencers to bring these to life with an international flavour,” Porter added. Plans to open additional stores nationwide have been expressed and it seems that7-Eleven Australia will continue to be operated locally, as the business operations will remain atMelbourne-based headquarters, with current management at the helm.