An Intelligent Way to Thank Customers

Wawa’s brilliant marketing efforts on display as it thanks customers for their loyalty by highlighting its social responsibility program.

As I’ve written several times on this blog, I am a big fan of Wawa. Over the past two years or so, I’ve been impressed by their stores and gas stations, their staff and their customer relations work. On a recent stop in to Wawa for my late morning coffee fix, I took a moment to look at the hot cup sleeve on my 20 oz. coffee.

A Wawa coffee cup

The wording on the cup reads:


Because of your loyalty and support,
we are able to give millions of dollars to
local and national charities each year.

Let’s consider the message that the cup conveys:

Wawa values our patronage: Right there in big, block letters, we can read that Wawa is grateful for us shopping at their stores. Notice the reasoning for Wawa’s gratitude: so that they can support charities. Forgetting our urge to be cynical, we can see very clearly that Wawa is deeply committed to its social responsibility program.

Wawa acknowledges our role in their social responsibility: Wawa does not put itself forward as the key actor in donating millions of dollars to charity. It clearly names its customers — us — as responsible for that. Wawa shares the credit with those who make the donations possible. That’s a humble and transparent approach.

Wawa supports the local area: Aside from employing thousands of people locally, Wawa reminds us that it is committed to the local area by donating to local charities.

Wawa remembers the customers just passing through: Not everyone who shops at a Wawa is a local. Some will be on a business trip or in town visiting family. Wawa has thought of those customers as well by thanking them for helping Wawa support charities that may be operating in their own home towns and cities.

Yet again, Wawa has proved itself savvy when it comes to marketing and building customer loyalty. No doubt I shall find myself in their stores again soon buying something, doing my bit to help local charities.

Related Posts:

An ongoing campaign from Wawa

Wawa demonstrates an on-going commitment to local charities by promoting the Susan G. Koman Race for a Cure in Philadelphia.

Wawa's hut cup sleeve for April

I wanted to post a short note to say that Wawa might always use their hot cup sleeves in support of charities. As we can see in the picture above, Wawa was supporting Susan G Komen Race for a Cure, which is a massive fundraiser for breast cancer research.

Wawa continues to impress

Part of an on-going series considering the marketing and sales practices of mini-mart and gas station chain, Wawa.


As mentioned previously on this blog, I have been impressed by Wawa and have decided to keep an eye on the company to see what else I could learn from them. Today’s post is an update on my findings.

Those pesky cash withdrawal fees

Shortly after I moved to Philadelphia, I discovered that the ATM (or cashpoint for our UK readers) in my local Wawa did not charge the normal fee for cash withdrawals. Delighted by this find, I now call into my local Wawa whenever I need to top up my cash supplies.

Yesterday afternoon, I heard a very interesting radio piece on about Wawa and its ATMs. On Wednesday of this week, Wawa and partner P-N-C Bank held a parade celebrating their 1-billionth surcharge-free withdrawal. Wow! That’s a big number (despite our desensitization to large numbers in the wake of the government bailout spending.)

Bringing in the customers

What a stroke of genius from Wawa! Over the past 14 years, a billion customers walked deliberately into their shops to access cash, the easiest method of spending money. (This doesn’t even begin to count other customers who came into Wawa without accessing the ATM.) Getting customers in the door is a challenge in any retail business, but getting them in the door with cash in hand is even more important.

Let’s consider this anecdotally. I visit the Wawa about every 7 to 10 days for cash. On average, I then buy something (a candy bar, a soda, a jug of milk or a 20oz. coffee) on one of out every two trips. Connecting my practices with the 1,000,000,000 fee-free withdrawals, Wawa is selling its products to about 500 million people that might otherwise shop elsewhere. Those ATMs are a great marketing scheme.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any numbers on how or if Wawa is subsiding the P-N-C Bank fees. There certainly is an argument for Wawa covering a discounted percentage of those fees. Yet it is also possible that P-N-C Bank waives those fees in exchange for being the exclusive cash point provider to Wawa. Cashpoints today, with their full-on computer screens, are mini-marketing machines themselves. P-N-C Bank might have swapped the fees for the advertising space.

My initial impressions of Wawa as being a savvy operator seem to be correct. Definitely follow this blog for further updates.

Well done to Wawa!

Earlier this month, I ran out of ground coffee at home. Eager to not miss my morning cuppa, I remembered that my local Wawa makes a decent brew. Popping into the car, I secured a delicious 20oz. mug of the dark stuff within a few short minutes. (A bit of sugar and plenty of skim milk, in case you were wondering.) Yet, it was only after I had climbed back into the car that I took notice of a stroke of brilliance from Wawa.

Wawa supports the Red Cross

The cardboard protective sleeve around the paper cup notified me in a bright, clear way that Wawa was a regular and dedicated supporter of the American Red Cross. “Hmm …“, I thought, “that’s good to know. I am glad that such a big company is actually a decent one too. I wonder if it’s more than just a publicity stunt.

A bit more analysis

Back home, I sipped the good coffee and thought a bit about the value of Wawa’s support of The Red Cross. There were a number of value insights to be garnered from a review of Wawa’s actions.

The following are just a few points:

  • A highly visible CSR initiative: By promoting its support of the Red Cross in such a visible way, Wawa is broadcasting in a very effective way that it is a responsible and socially aware company.
  • More than just show: A perusal of Wawa’s website makes it pretty clear that the company is committed to charitable/social causes. There is a grant system with a clearly stated set of interests. The press releases section of the Wawa website includes a number of events and programs that Wawa has to support the Red Cross.  Within those press releases are several quotes from Red Cross executives thanking Wawa for their commitment to the Red Cross.
  • Crafting CSR into daily operations: Wawa must go through thousands of hot cup protector rings in a day. That the company used such a regular part of its commercial offering as a method of showing their support for a charitable organization suggests that CSR has deep roots at Wawa.
  • Putting its money where it asks customers to: A review of Wawa’s website shows that Wawa conducted a campaign in January to aid the  Red Cross with its effort to assist in Haiti. Wawa’s customers donated $350,000 to the effort, to which Wawa added $50.000 of its own money. That’s a big company following through on what it asks of its customers. Wawa didn’t just ask for others to help — it put its own money in.  (Of course, organizing donations through its sales system would also have cost money to implement.)
  • A possible reduction of production costs: It would not surprise me to discover that Wawa might have been able to convince the company that prints its protective sleeves to provide the ‘Red Cross’ sleeves at a discount as it was part of an effort to raise support for the Red Cross.

So, “Well done” to Wawa for getting so much right!  They certainly caught my attention and I shall be studying them in the future, looking to learn from their business savvy.

Going the exta step

About the only thing I could say against Wawa in connection with this post is that there doesn’t seem to be a mention of the Red Cross on the company’s website.  For a retail company like Wawa, recreating the inviting atmosphere of its shops on its website seems a natural progression.  I would have liked to see a logo and link on the Wawa home page to the Red Cross website. (In fact, I didn’t see anything on the Wawa website about being Twitter or Facebook.  A check of Facebook shows that Wawa has a very active fan page.)

The American Red Cross is online at; the International Red Cross can be found at