C-Stores Add Wearables to Shelves

From Kum & Go fanny packs to Casey’s t-shirts, retailers want to be in their customers’ closets.

January 03, 2020

DES MOINES—Some convenience stores are giving their customers tangible ways to shout-out their love for the chain by adding wearable, branded items, the Des Moines Register reports. “It’s a huge priority for me and our team at Kum & Go to figure out how to engage our audience wherever they are," said Ariel Rubin, the chain's director of communications.

While branded merchandise has been around for years, more retailers like fast-food and convenience store chains use branded items to promote it—and the store—to new audiences. For example, while Kum & Go has been selling branded t-shirts, cigarette lighters and hats for years, the company recently added fanny packs with the old chain logo: “Always something extra!” The fanny packs took off on social media, with fans posting photos of themselves wearing the fluorescent pink items.

Casey's General Stores listened to customer requests for branded apparel and unveiled its t-shirts on Cyber Monday 2019, according to Art Sebastian, vice president of the chain’s digital customer experience. The t-shirt has four different designs featuring slogans like “Slice, Slice Casey’s” and “Come for the Gas, Stay for the Pizza.”

“The world is changing. People want to interact in different ways. They have different expectations,” Sebastian said. “It’s a revolution of the modern-day technology era.”

Brittain Ladd, a global strategy and digital consultant for Tompkins International, said that branded merchandise, while fun, still needs to bring in more customers to be effective for retailers. “The only reason to do something like this is to generate new customers and retain current customers and convince those customers to go in the store [to] buy something,” he said.