Corporate Eye

Do You Know Who Your Customers Are? 7-Eleven Does

I found a great example of a brand that is learning who its customers are in a unique and indirect way. 

Did you know that 7-Eleven customers have projected the U.S. Presidential Election winner accurately for the past two elections and with uncanny accuracy in terms of how the votes were split?  Want to know how they did it?  Since 2000, 7-Eleven provides customers a choice.  Do you want to get your coffee in the Democratic nominee’s blue 7-Eleven cup or the Republican nominee’s red 7-Eleven cup? 

Turns out the coffee cup preference of 7-Eleven customers exactly mirrors the voting preferences of Americans.  In both the 2000 and 2004 elections, 7-Eleven Democrat blue and Republican red cups sold at a rate that directly reflected the final voting results from both elections.  Coincidence?  I think not. 

It would appear that 7-Eleven coffee drinking customers represent the part of the American consumer market who actually go out and vote.  By implementing a simple and fun marketing promotion (blue Democrat and red Republican coffee cups), 7-Eleven has identified its customers as not only being interested in politics but also active participants in politics.  Imagine the opportunities for sponsorship events and other branded activities around political activities that 7-Eleven can leverage.   On the flip side, 7-Eleven can gain valuable insight into its customers’ demographics from this simple promotional campaign.  It’s a win-win situation for 7-Eleven.

So take a lesson from 7-Eleven.  What kind of brand promotions can you create that will provide you with more than just a sales bump?  7-Eleven leveraged the buzz about the Presidential Elections in 2000, 2004 and now in 2008 (by the way, Barack Obama is currently leading the 7-Eleven coffee cup race) to create an interactive word-of-mouth marketing campaign that consumers love.  How can you do something similar with a current event to draw a buzz to your brand? 

Check out 7-Election for the details about the 7-Eleven promotion.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

Talking about 7-Eleven, they could use an ambush marketing technique by giving out free coffee cups even if their Styrofoam ones in a sack. As long as they put their logo and business name on it. Then everyone would find out about 7-Eleven.

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