WAWA, Pa. -- Wawa, a convenience store chain based here, is bolstering its lunch menu with a new proprietary branded product and is featuring it in colorful, full-page image ads.
The new product, hot stromboli -- dubbed "Wawaboli" -- is featured in in-your-face close-ups that occupy most of a full-page ad that ran recently in a Philadelphia daily newspaper. The brand name logo, underneath the photo, is in the colors of Italy's flag: red, white and green.
At the top of the page, a headline, in letters two inches high, says, "What's hot for lunch at Wawa?"
Four varieties -- pizza steak, Italian, spinach and cheese, and pepperoni -- are advertised at $2.99 retail, which a Wawa official said is the product's everyday price.
"We've developed several proprietary brands for our products and we're adding variety constantly because as the consumer appetite has grown, we have grown," said Shari Anisman, category manager for food service for the 500-unit convenience store chain.
Anisman pointed out that while the menu item is new for Wawa, the method of advertising isn't.
"The ad we've run in the Philadelphia Inquirer is an awareness ad, and we've been doing this type of advertising for a long time," she said, pointing out that Wawa has used awareness ads on radio and in other media.
"We do billboard buys. There's a total strategy there. We didn't just wake up one day and say, 'That would be a good idea.' We've increased our ad budget over the years, too," Anisman said.
The "awareness" part is what's particularly important, said one consultant who works with supermarkets. Indeed, he suggested supermarkets could take a page from Wawa's book.
"This is the top-of-mind approach. To sell meals, supermarkets are going to have to create awareness of themselves in consumers' minds, and this type of advertising is one way to do it," said Stephan Kouzomis, president of Entrepreneurial Consulting, Louisville, Ky.
"This is an enticing ad. It doesn't just introduce a new product; it also gives the perception that Wawa is THE place to go," Kouzomis said.
He pointed out that consumers need all the help they can get in the "red zone" between 4 and 7 in the evening when they're wondering what they're going to eat and where they're going to get it, and how many family members they have to feed tonight.
"An ad like that also creates brand loyalty. It gets people in the store initially, but you need to keep reinforcing it by running such ads frequently. Supermarkets try to save on advertising and instead use frequent-shopper cards, but that doesn't do it," Kouzomis said. Wawa, a chain respected in the industry for its marketing tactics and successful cultivation of customer loyalty, has units in Delaware, Maryland Virginia, New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania.