Private Label Buyer Blog


Changing Their Model To Find New Market

November 19, 2012
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Been meaning to write about this one for a while. One of the companies that caught my eye headed into the National Association of Convenience Stores show in October was a sign maker called Watchfire.

I know. What’s that got to do with private label? Are they making private label LED signs?

No. Just follow me here.

The company has been making outdoor signs since 1932, and you’d have seen them everywhere from banks to churches to high school football stadiums. But it’s only recently that the company began looking to tailor its products for convenience stores.

“We spent a fair amount of time in the field, meeting with convenience stores and design companies and listening to the issues,” John Kunze, a sales director at Watchfire, told PLBuyer after the NACS show. “What we heard was that there’s still a strong interest in fuel prices all over the place, but electronic displays are more and more popular item for them to add to their stores.”

So the company began designing smaller fuel signs fit for convenience stores, able to catch the eye, make it easier for employees to change and set prices, as well as additional features to promote sales or special items in the store itself. Kunze said the NACS show featuring its products went very well for the company.

“We heard lots of interest in the product when people came by the booth,” he said. “Electronic displays are a great way of building traffic in the store. It’s the ability to draw traffic from the pump into the store because of the enticing-looking content. We’ve seen a surge in business in the convenience store market.”

That’s led the Danville, Ill.-based company to begin a major plant expansion “in part because of response from the C-store industry,” Kunze said.

Again, why does this matter for our audience? Because here’s a company finding a product to match the demand it is hearing from customers. So much of what we’re hearing today is about knowing your customer, finding out what they want, and delivering it to them. Here’s a company that was not in the business of making signs for the convenience store industry that listened to those customers, altered their product to meet a need, and now is seeing sales boom because of it.

Retail lessons go across boundaries, across brands and private label and different channels of shopping. Here’s today’s lesson. Listen to your customer. Meet their needs, even if you have to find an entirely new way of doing business. The ends will justify the means.

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