7-Eleven Seeks Emerging Brands for Virtual Expo

Top products could make it onto store shelves. 

September 10, 2020

IRVING, Texas—The 7-Eleven Brands with Heart, a virtual expo of new and unique products, will be held Oct. 21 and 22, and the company is inviting new brands to participate, making their case for why their offerings deserve a spot on 7-Eleven shelves, the company announced in a news release. Applications for participation will be accepted until Oct. 1.

This is the third consecutive year that new brands have been invited to enter a new retail channel and introduce their products and brand story to 7-Eleven’s eight million daily U.S. customers. The company wants to diversify its merchandise beyond the traditional c-store assortment and put delicious sips and snacks in the hands of the on-the-go customer.

“As a franchise business, we embody the spirit of entrepreneurship,” said Jack Stout, senior vice president of merchandising and demand chain, 7-Eleven. “At a time where many retailers are pausing new product launches, 7-Eleven is excited to give small business owners this unique opportunity.”

The two-day virtual event will include workshops and panels with 7-Eleven merchandising and operations leaders. It will close with an informal networking session where entrepreneurs will have access to the chain’s merchandising team to exchange ideas and pitch their products.

“7-Eleven offers emerging brands a unique opportunity to grow their business in the c-store channel,” said Chris Harkness, vice president of merchandising. “New and innovative products have an opportunity to really stand out in our small-store format. Plus, convenience customers are more likely to try a new item that is single serve ... Ultimately, it’s our customers who will decide which products become success stories. The Brands with Heart expo is a terrific opportunity all the way around—for customers, for companies just starting out and for 7-Eleven to deliver more of the great products our customers want.”

More than 750 companies applied to present their brands at last year’s Brands with Heart event, and 65 made the cut to participate in the two-day “listen and learn” and “show and taste” sessions. From the contenders, 25 brands were chosen to participate in a real-world, in-store test. Approximately one-third of the companies selected for this year’s in-store test are either owned by women, minorities or military veterans.