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C-store behemoth 7-Eleven has joined the lengthening list of retailers starting up a retail media network, with the likely impact being that it will be able to siphon off ad dollars from suppliers.

The name:  Gulp.

The Path to Purchase Institute (P2PI) quotes Ben Tienor, director of brand and customer insights at 7-Eleven,  as saying that "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 … 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."

KC's View:

The targeted customer and the shopping occasions may be different, but almost certainly the competition for ad dollars from suppliers is going to be against everybody else and their brother who is starting up these networks.

Hard for me to tell if this is just the initiative de jour, or if we're looking at a long-term trend that will end up being foundational to how retailers communicate with shoppers.  As a consumer, I tend to worry about these things being just so much more noise and clutter … but I also recognize that I almost certainly am not the target customer.

In the food retail space, I think these networks can be effective educational tools that build a high level of transparency and information.  But I think that they'll more likely be used as just one more way to extract dollars from manufacturers.