Members of the New Sunrise Group came together recently at the 14th ICEWORKS conference in Hawaii under the theme of riding the wave and chasing the sun. Under this theme delegates celebrated weathering the storms of the last few years, and heard from industry experts on the waves of pressure that will be facing them in the future. Perhaps most importantly however, delegates were invited to chase the sun, to seek out success and were armed with the inspiration, information and support to get them there.
The 2022 ICEWORKS in Hawaii saw over 400 fuel retailers and suppliers come together in the beautiful setting of Waikiki to network, learn, celebrate and recharge.
The welcome function, a Hawaiian Pool Party, presented by Asahi Beverages, brought together fuel retail operators and suppliers for a casual and fun kick off to the event. The delegates were treated to a wide range of local fare at themed food stations, traditional Hawaiian welcome, big kid games including a mechanical wave to surf.
“It is just so good to see everyone catch the face of a colleague or supplier in the crowd and then rush over to give them a hug and say hello, you can tell we really need it” said one delegate.
Breakfast each day, presented by The Distributors, was an opportunity to ease into what were full on days of learning.
“It has been really interesting. I’ve been watching the Australian reaction to a breakfast without ‘decent’ coffee. We cant wrap our head around it. The poor staff have had to explain over and over that they don’t know what a latte is. There are a lot of things that the Hawaiian food service does well, but for a bunch of coffee snobs like us Aussies, the standard coffee is not one of them” explained one of the delegates.
Thankfully the coffee situation was catered for, with the Common Good Coffee Company onsite to keep delegates fuelled up throughout the event.
Business Sessions Day One were presented by Frucor Suntory and saw an impassioned presentation
by New Sunrise Group Director Steve Cardinale on the vision for the network of over 1,000 retail sites that includes innovation to drive sustainable and environmentally conscious activity as well as customer engagement and instore sales, proving growth can be green.
National Merchandise Manager for New Sunrise Group, Joe Alessi expanded on this vision and extolled the delegates that it was time to think bigger.
“Our mission used to be to be the best independent retailer in the market. We got there. The statistics show that. So now it is to be the best retailer in the market. To get there we are going to have to leverage our pillars and the strategic advantage that they deliver to compete in a broader market …and we can do it. Through connection to the community, through consistent service, range, service and innovation. Though giving customers what they want; reward, choice, innovation, events and good food fast, we can do it”
Joe also outlined a new direction in customer reward that is seated in the way customers want to be rewarded, with flexibility and identity at its core.
National Retail Support Manager, Deborah Adnum dived into the benchmarking performance of New Sunrise Group retailers against the brooder market, with IRI data showing that New Sunrise Group sites outperform the whole market on all key areas.
Brett and Corrine Barclay from CMA provided further insights into the positioning of New Sunrise Group sites from a supplier perspective (from -27 to +45 a massive jump into 2nd place overall) and explored the unique circumstances and motivations of the Gen Z Shopper.
“As an industry we tend to do really well with who our current shopper is, but we need to get better about thinking about who our future shopper will be and ensure that we are catering for, or planning for the future shopper” explained Corrine Barclay.
“We are currently under indexed for the Gen Z shopper, they are our future and it is time to really understand them and start catering to them now. As a group they want choice, range and options. NPD is key for these shoppers. They see convenience differently” outlined Corrine.
“Frictionless, multi modal engagement (think drive through, online, contactless) and bundles and bargains are key identifiers. Mission drivers are beverages, functional beverages particularly, accounting for 32% of the mission drivers of Gen Z. Snacking is also a growing mission. Their snacking missions are more often, more divers (have to have the better for you option) and have to be there when they want them” concluded Corrine.h
ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie took delegates through a deep dive into the current and emerging political and economic pressures, particularly the labour market changes and challenges.
“There are more pressures coming down the road, and some of it poses a serious challenge to operational structures at worst, and a huge administrative burden at best, but ACAPMA is here to help now and into the future. I will say this, if you have been considering an EBA, now is the time to have a chat with Elisha about progressing that agenda” outlined Mark.
“One of the highlights for me was the David Goldberger conversation. I didn’t know any of that. It is really impressive and hard to wrap my head around how you could be that ballsy” said one delegate of the business sessions.
David Goldberger, founder of Liberty, sat down with Mark McKenzie for an extended interview to discuss the wild and winding path that David blazed for the independent fuel operators.
“David was my highlight of the day. Such a great story, and Steve is right, the independents owe David a debt of thanks for being the first in so many things we take for granted in todays industry. Price boards, independent branding, self serve pumps and standing up to regulators and majors as the only little guy at the time. It really is incredible” explained Mark McKenzie.
“It was interesting to watch the audience when we got to talking about him starting the Solo brand and the uphill battle he faced just to get supply, something everyone in the room has gone through, but in a significantly less adversarial context, thanks to trailblazers like David” added Mark.
Greg Page from Heart of the Nation led delegates through the difference they can make, the lives they can save, by having an AED onsite…and making sure staff know how and when to use one.
An international conference makes the traditional trade hall impractical, however the ICEWORKS team ensured the supplier engagement sessions were lively and engaging. Delegates were provided with an opportunity to do a deep dive into NPD and core roll out and promotion, that came with a large serving of cash…a total of $25,000 US in cash…a Cash Bonanza, presented by the many engaged and active supplier partners.
After a full day of learning and networking a relaxing and energising dinner at the Tiki Bar and Grill, presented by Bega Group, where Hawaiian shirts were a must and the luau atmosphere and band got the delegates to let thier hair down and dance.
Day two kicked off with an illuminating presentation from Craig Panter, Founder and Managing Director of Invenco, who provided delegates with an insight into the nature of the Hawaiian petrol and convenience market compared to the broader US market.
Craig also took the biggest laugh of the event when he loudly declared that, as someone who had operated a business in Geelong and spent more than a little time in Melbourne, he was well aware that Hawaiian and American coffee is, on the whole, “crap”.
Craig did take the time to explain to delegates that while coffee has not yet caught up to the standards of your average Melbourne hipster, what the Hawaiian market is doing well is sub brand diversification to satisfy specific shopper needs at both a whole of store level as well as to a targeted internal offering level.
This internal market carve up and shopper targeting was on full display on the retail tour (and savenger hunt that followed Craigs presentation.
“The retail tour focused on convenience stores, particularly on the fresh and ready food options instore. As a bone-fide coffee nut I agree with Craig that the Hawaiian offering is not strong, but the general targeting, and the fresh food was really interesting in its execution” explains ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski.
“All of the stores we visited had a different flavour and niche. As Craig had highlighted the demographic of Waikiki as an almost exclusively tourist town which has an interesting impact on the store design, offer and pricing. The extent of this is very obvious when the sites are visited in quick succession in the middle of the day.
“Even within groups the layout, décor offer and even pricing is markedly different. The ABC stores and their upmarket sister stores Island Gourmet that we visited are a case in point.
“Any traveller to Waikiki (indeed most of Hawaii) could almost not avoid going into an ABC store…they are everywhere. With a 37 locations in 1 mile radius of Waikiki alone, the ABC Store is just a part of a tourists visit. The average ABC store offers everything from beach wear and accessories, to packaged grocery, personal care needs, souvenirs, fresh meals and fruit, to alcohol and tobacco and the usual snacks and ice creams, all in a small footprint, which is often walk through.
“Most of the smaller ABC stores I visited had 2-3 staff working at any one time, servicing the two tobacco counters even in what we would call a very small footprint…it was wild, you could walk out of an ABC store and look down the street and see 2, sometimes 3 ABC stores within a minutes walk, and they are always busy. Indeed the Marriott, which was the location for the conference included 2 separate ABC stores under its roof.
“The offer in the ABC stores is pitched right at the tourist, who has all of the amenities of the hotel to call on and so the breakfast and full meal options tended to be minimal by comparison, whereas the fresh snacking options were impressive in range and display. While fresh tropical fruit dominated, sandwiches, wraps and rolls, as well as small bento meals based around rice were also on offer.
“Pricing was similarly pitched at the tourist, who is willing to pay for convenience and is often in holiday mode when it comes to spending” continued Elisha.
“The ABC stores showed a level of customisation to their particular footprint, layout and location, even within a fairly homogenous tourist town, but their sister brand ABC Island Gourmet, located near high end, often long stay, 5 star hotels, offered a more expansive, luxurious and customised experience.
“With a truly stunning food offer that included in store roasted beef, sandwiches and wraps and a fruit and snack offering that was just beautiful to look at, it was really the high end ABC, characterised with mini destinations within a large open footprint that was light, bright and only slightly industrial in design flavour”
“We saw a similar approach taken at other comparable high end convenience stores, like Dukes Lane Market or Dean & Deluca. The really open plan, but with a layout that creates various destination counters; tobacco, retail, coffee, pizza, liquor and more, was done really well.
“Our group remarked repeatedly how many staff were working in theses stores. In the smaller standard ABC stores it was 2-3 staff, in the larger high end stores it was often upwards of 15 staff.
“Standouts were the careful packaging of fresh sandwiches and wraps to display clearly all internal ingredients, it is a small thing but one that drives purchase. A personal favourite was the use of ‘Staff Picks’ on the fresh food items, like in a book store these little shelf talkers had a Staff Pick call out with a handwritten note from the staff member on why its their favourite. This kind of shelf activation is simple but effective in personalising and engaging the customer.
“Of course tobacco, vaping, CBD products and alcohol for sale in a convenience format were a novelty for Australian retailers. What was striking to me was not just that the products were out on display, I was ready for that, but that there were promotions on tobacco and vapes, and literal discounts on special packets was a surprise, what was a shock was seeing the placement of children’s toys, characters and lollies next to, above or with these products.
The retail tour came to an end at the Maui Brewery where Lactalis presented a casual lunch and the scavenger hunt award winners were announced
The last day of the conference was an activity day, giving delegates the opportunity to explore Hawaii and spend quality time catching up with colleagues and suppliers either; Sailing, Hiking or taking the trip to Peal Harbour.
The conference came to an end with the Rock n Roll Gala Dinner and Awards Night presented by Coca-Cola at the amazing Royal Hawaiian. In closing out the conference New Sunrise Group Director Steve Cardinale summed it up clearly “New Sunrise is are here to help support you, to help you grow, learn and be better. We are a family, and I am so glad that I have been able to share this ride, and this evening with you all.”
ICEWORKS 22 Award Winners
When dinner and the awards were done delegates were treated to a rock n roll spectacular complete with The King himself, Elvis (almost). The dancing and celebrating kicked onto the iconic Hard Rock Cafe.
Delegates left the 14th ICEWORKS Conference recharged, and amped up with ideas and information, and renewed relationships to help realise those ideas.