Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought the convenience store that describes its signature Big Gulp as "genetically engineered to quench even the most diabolical thirst" would rebrand to attract more healthy millennials and women into their stores. But lo and behold, 7-Eleven is on-track to revamp its stores with white tile walls, wooden accents and large swaths of bright green paint. Based on the photos, the new 7-Eleven will be a far cry from the dingy, Cheeto- and- Go-Go Taquito-packed C-store of our nightmares.
What do you think of 7-Eleven's makeover efforts?
Created by Ohio-based WP Partners—an interior design company whose clients include brick-and-mortar stores such as Samsung, CVS and Whole Foods Market—the rebrand appears to be bright and inviting.
"The new stores have an almost Whole Foods style vibe," according to Fast Company, "with a layout and signage strategy that attempts to highlight healthier snacks and freshly made food over microwaveable nachos and sodas the size of a toddler's torso." Indeed, 7-Eleven will prominently display baskets of basic fruit like bananas and apples and bread under what appears to be an attempt at cheeky signage.
A step in the right direction?
We at New Hope agree that when retailers sell healthier options, it's a good thing. After all, our mission is to bring "more health to more people." And I doubt anyone would choose to shop in the fluorescent-lit, depressing 7-Elevens of our college years over the new 7-Elevens of the future. But after an amusing email discussion among New Hope editors (some of which are millennials), it's apparent that we have an issue with this rebrand because of its blatant pandering for millennial attention.
Our email chain is worth a read:
"If it's green and white and bright all over, it must be healthy! Hey guys, catch ya later at our fun and safe after-school hang-out that also sells cigarettes and alcohol to sketchball powerball players." -Jody Mason
"I’m pretty impressed that they’re responding to the better-for-you trend. It’s about time. They should be applauded by our industry. They’re not trying to be Whole Foods. But if we (as a nation) could get a few more people to snap into an apple rather than a Slim Jim I think that’s a win. Good for them." -Nora Simmons
"It’s the vehicle they are using to reach an intended audience. Most convenience stores now carry healthier options, but aren’t trying to appeal to a demographic in such superficial ways. It needed a facelift, but it feels inauthentic and gimmicky." -Jody Mason
"Agreed. It’s funny that marketers haven’t figured out that the best way to market to millennials is not to market to millennials." -Connor Link
"As Jenna and I said in our millennial presentation, it’s all about being authentic. If millennials get a whiff that this was done to attract them, it will fall out of fashion faster than the Superman Dance. I still do that dance though because I’m a millennial and don’t care what people think." -Kelsey Blackwell
"It’s also about convenience though. And what’s more convenient, kitschy, or 'throwback' than 7-Eleven? Nothing." -Nora Simmons
- "If 7-Eleven is going to be authentic, they need to turn the fluorescents to 'hangover glare,' hire chain-smoking actors to desperately scratch through rolls of lottery tickets, leave the burritos on the counter so the cellophane sweats, and use the catch phrase 'It’s Always 4 A.M. at 7-Eleven!'" -Rick Polito
You may ask, why the rant? So what if a convenience store—which was desperately in need of a facelift anyway—throws a bit of green paint here, a basket of fruit there? Because that's only what it is: a facelift. You can alter the facade, but 7-Eleven is still the same C-store. Is the company more ethical now that it looks pretty? Did it raise cashiers' hourly pay? Did it start sourcing locally? Will it banish it 64-ounce Double Big Gulp or artificially colored Slurpees from existence?
7-Eleven was born in 1927 when an ice house started selling milk, eggs and bread. The company had ample opportunity to leverage its 86-year history to build authenticity with millennials.
You gave it the old college try, 7-Eleven. But we won't bite your health-halo carrot.