Wawa, a brand dating back to the 1800s, sought to update their stores’ design to more closely align with the company’s value proposition. With deep roots as a traditional convenience store, the brand identified urban areas as the target locations for developing and sustaining their continued growth.
As highways and suburban areas have become increasingly saturated in recent years, Wawa identified a great opportunity to compete in new urban spaces. Additionally, they also saw opportunity in new categories, such as quick-service and fast casual, given their reputation for high-quality food and coffee. A convenience store with a cult following, cities like Washington D.C. and Philadelphia have been a loving home to Wawa stores for many years, but the brand had not had a presence in the city centers.
Fulfilling lives, every day
The new store design had to connect with Wawa’s core values, which is streamlined with the company’s mission of “Fulfilling lives, every day.” In order to bring this to fruition in each urban market, Wawa shifted from focusing on one centralized brand message to customizing its branding to each of the local markets. It was imperative for the company to ensure each new location felt like it belonged to each neighborhood and its wider community.
Localization of the convenience experience
Elements of the design were customized for each store location as Wawa aimed to be a destination that meets the needs of each community as a whole. They also placed a focus on professionals due to their on-the-go lifestyles and preference for fresh food, among other trends. With this holistic strategy in place, the localization of the designs only enhanced this aim. For each store, the team immersed themselves in the surrounding architecture, materials, and other aspects of the city to inform the store design and achieve this localized feel.
Interbrand recognized the solution: to target consumers that are on-the-go, but also those who like to indulge in-the-moment by trying new treats. Wawa’s urban store locations are outfitted with digital menus and ordering kiosks to make the customer journey as frictionless as possible. Each store also features seating and free Wi-Fi to meet the needs of a wide array of customers.
The first test location for Wawa’s urban growth plan launched in City Center Philadelphia, where the brand was welcomed with enthusiasm. The store exceeded expectations by over 50% in terms of both sales and volume within its first year of operations.
Since the successful launch of City Center, the urban concept store design has continued to roll out across more locations, including Washington D.C.. To date, over 10 urban spaces have been retrofitted for “Fulfilling lives, every day.”
Wawa has been recognized as a Store Design of the Year by design:retail’s 2018 Portfolio Awards. View all the winners in design:retail magazine’s awards issue here.