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7-Eleven Debuts Retailer Media Network

jackie barba
a person sitting in a chair talking on a cell phone
7-Eleven's Ben Tienor (left) discusses Gulp Media Network alongside The Mars Agency's Katherine Barks (right)

At P2PI LIVE in Chicago on Oct. 18, 7-Eleven announced the launch of Gulp Media Network, the convenience store giant’s venture into retail media, among other recent moves to help brands more effectively target consumers.

Gulp differs from many retailer media networks on the market as 7-Eleven focuses more on fulfilling an “immediate consumption purchase occasion” versus stock-up trips, as Ben Tienor, director of brand and customer insights at 7-Eleven, put it during a session with Katherine Barks, vice president of strategic planning at The Mars Agency.

7-Eleven shoppers, or immediate consumption consumers, are probably not shopping online as much as grocery shoppers and they're not loyal to any one retailer. They tend to skew younger and pick and choose what they need in any given moment.

In fact, Tienor said that geotargeting data shows that the average 7-Eleven customer shops six other stores in the convenience store space throughout the year. “Shoppers are loyal to fulfilling their need and that’s the experience,” he added.

With Gulp, 7-Eleven is more focused on marketing on third-party platforms and properties. It leverages first-party data to target the right consumers with relevant messaging. It partnered with IRI to mine through their first-party transaction data and answer the kind of questions you’d get if you looked at enough receipts, Tienor said.


While 7-Eleven does have about 80 million members of its retailer loyalty programs, immediate consumption occasions are not necessarily based on brand loyalty, so 7-Eleven is focused on engaging and attracting shoppers with the best experience and serving up the things its customers like most.

“The most visible way that we try to engage those customers is by leading with customer fandoms, passion points, hobbies or interests akin to that,” said Tienor, adding that thinking of ways to enhance its customer interests, particularly the sports experience, with brands is key to how 7-Eleven is building its retailer media network.

To further understand its customers, 7-Eleven also recently introduced the “Brainfreeze Collective,” its new research community of about 160,000 members. The retailer uses the community, which has opted in, to field different research surveys or qualitative methods and test new in-store and online experiences to understand customer preference and behavior in ways it can’t by simply mining through receipts or purchase data.

“From the research experience side, I don’t need to ask [the research participants] if they drink coffee because I see their purchase behavior, and I can differentiate the answers by high-frequency coffee drinkers, low- frequency coffee drinkers or whatever it is across the category,” Tienor said. “Tying the research methodology to the purchase data is probably the most unique way that we lean into engagement.”

Following the Brainfreeze Collective, 7-Eleven will launch Lab Stores, which are like the average 7-Eleven store but are outfitted with cameras and sensors to gain deeper insights into how shoppers are behaving in stores.

These stores aim to help the retailer and brands understand how their consumers are engaging with not only their products, but their P-O-P displays, the category, or if they’re going to the snack aisle before the beverage refrigerator and how long they’re contemplating their purchase, for example. Labs stores are not mock stores that leverage test subjects, they’re real stores with real shoppers “voting with their real money,” Tienor said.

Bringing together first-party transactional data and behavioral research data aims to answer the “why behind the buy” Barks said, and is central to leveraging the Gulp Media Network and its capabilities to target the right consumers and the right moment. The combination allows them to work with brands to personalize targeted ads and offers based on location, segmentation and more to consumers, Teinor said.

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