Sheetz, a gas station and convenience store brand in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, has created many fanatics out of their customers. Like Wawa and Rutter’s, Sheetz has a made-to-order menu that runs all day and night, all year long. Their over 600 locations extend through Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, and their headquarters is in Altoona, Pennsylvania (100 Best Companies to Work For: Sheetz, 2021). Sheetz fights hard against Rutter’s and Wawa, who all have great food, convenience, and selection. Sheetz is differentiated by their constant innovation, steady social media presence, and Fortune magazine awards, while continuing to offer real, quality foods.
The Sheetz Marketing Mix
Sheetz is all about delivering value to their customers through their marketing mix, according to Louie Sheetz. The marketing strategy at Sheetz focuses on two things bringing in new customers with food far above gas station expectations and engaging customers with more purchases and higher frequency (Sheetz Executive Shares ‘Shmart’ Marketing Ideas With Students, 2012). As a family business, they have grown the Sheetz empire and brand while bringing it recognition in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For (100 Best Companies to Work For: Sheetz, 2021) and Fortune’s 75 Best Large Workplaces for Women (75 Best Large Workplaces for Women, 2021).
Sheetz sells gasoline, baked goods, made-to-order sandwiches, salads, fried appetizers, coffee, and smoothies (Mahajan, n.d.). Sheetz also sells typical convenience store items like beer, soda, energy drinks, candy, and beef jerky. The focal point at Sheetz is the M•T•O® area, which features their made-to-order electronic ordering kiosks and their food preparation area. It is noteworthy that Sheetz pioneered the touchscreen ordering kiosks back in 1993 (Mikrut, 2020).
Sheetz gas pumps, stores, and packaging are all branded with the Sheetz logo and red brand color or light blue brand color. Everything about Sheetz is branded, and every package and sign within the store is introducing the cohesive Sheetz brand. Even products have branded names starting with “Sh” or ending in “Z,” like the Shweets (for sweets), Shnack Wrapz (for snack wraps), and Appz (for appetizers).
Sheetz makes its money on food and convenience items, so it often sells gasoline below cost in order to draw patrons in. This causes competitors to drop their prices as well, often forcing them out of business (Understanding Sheetz’s Strategy, 2002). For pricing food and convenience items, Sheetz uses KSS Retail’s PriceStrat software, which uses data to determine optimal pricing (Sheetz Selects KSS Pricing System, 2004). This means that the pricing strategy is determined by a lot of factors including competitor data, product categories, promotional pricing, and Sheetz’ own product performance, and that the software can automatically set the optimal pricing.
Regional natives know that going to Sheetz for lunch is going to cost more than a Wendy’s value meal, but there are so many options, and the consumer can pick every item that they want on a sandwich or salad, giving them a truly customized experience through the touchscreen kiosk. The food and convenience items cost slightly more than competitors, but the stores are always full of customers and fanatics.
In addition to branding everything with logos, brand colors, and trademarked names as mentioned above, Sheetz is known for having a very active and smart social media presence. On their social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, they are engaging their customers daily with promotions, polls, and stories (DeCoskey, 2012). Their mobile app pushes notifications about promotions and deals. Sheetz emails its customers daily with ads as well. In true modern marketing style, Sheetz markets to its customers via email and the mobile app with products that are aligned with that customer’s buying preferences. The recommendations that Sheetz makes are surprisingly in tune with consumer wants.
Sheetz has a loyalty program where they award the title of Sheetz Fan, Sheetz Friend, or Sheetz Freak depending on points earned through purchases. When a customer is awarded Sheetz Freak, they earn a vinyl sticker for their car, a stainless-steel coffee mug, and other swag — which they refer to as shwag (The More You Earn, The Sweeter The Rewardz, n.d.). As someone who is a Sheetz Freak for four years in a row, this author knows the appeal of Sheetz, its promotion, and its celebrated loyalty program for its fanatics.
Sheetz are found in many towns in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic region. They usually flood an area with stores, increasing coverage and brand awareness with their stores. They also conduct business on their smart phone app, where consumers can pre-order food and track their loyalty points.
The Sheetz Value Proposition
Sheetz touts itself as a 24/7/365 convenience store with award-winning foods, specialty coffee, and low-price gasoline. Their customer commitment is top of mind for Sheetz, pushing the limit on being fast and friendly while improving quality (What’s a Sheetz?, n.d.). Convenience is the mantra of Sheetz (Bal, 2016). Their value proposition is that people can get real, fresh, quality food at a gas station where they are met with convenience.
Starting as a dairy chain, then adding gas pumps, pioneering digital touchscreen ordering, and offering their made-to-order foods and coffees, Sheetz evolved since its inception in 1952 by Bob Sheetz. It has grown to over 600 stores and over 20,000 employees, and they plan to have one thousand stores soon. Wanting to sell beer in gas stations, which was illegal in Pennsylvania, Sheetz lobbied, and alcohol laws were changed. Sheetz added dine-in areas in their stores so that people could eat in the gas station. Innovation to continue to server customers’ wants is in the Sheetz DNA, so in the future they will continue to evolve and change, replacing themselves in the process (Mikrut, 2020).
With their focus on offering real, quality foods to convenience customers in their gas stations, Sheetz has reinvented itself several times over the last 70 years. Their footprint is expanding and their brand awareness growing. Their efforts in dynamic pricing strategies, digital ordering, mobile app ordering, and social media presence have been key components of their growth.
75 Best Large Workplaces for Women. (2021). Fortune. https://fortune.com/best-workplaces-for-women/2021/sheetz/
100 Best Companies to Work For: Sheetz. (2021). Fortune. https://fortune.com/company/sheetz/best-companies/
Bal, K. (2016, February 27). ‘We’re all about convenience’: Sheetz leaders focus on people, innovation. https://www.tribdem.com/news/we-re-all-about-convenience-sheetz-leaders-focus-on-people-innovation/article_8b5faa32-ddd7-11e5-96b8-7fc9285ba406.html
DeCoskey, R. (2012, April 26). Sheetz: A Content Strategy Without a Blog? Hmm. https://www.business2community.com/content-marketing/sheetz-a-content-strategy-without-a-blog-hmm-0166290
Mahajan, A. (n.d.). Sheetz Menu With Prices. https://thefoodxp.com/sheetz-menu-prices/
Mikrut, I. (2020, July 3). The Untold Truth of Sheetz. https://www.mashed.com/223305/the-untold-truth-of-sheetz/
Sheetz Executive Shares ‘Shmart’ Marketing Ideas With Students. (2012, November 14). https://www.clarion.edu/news/2012/november/sheetz-executive-shares-shmart-marketing-ideas-with-students.html
Sheetz Selects KSS Pricing System. (2004, July 9). Progressive Grocer. https://progressivegrocer.com/sheetz-selects-kss-pricing-system
The More You Earn, The Sweeter The Rewardz. (n.d.). https://www.sheetz.com/biggerMSC?sf62858884=1
Understanding Sheetz’s Strategy. (2002, August 5). Convenience Store News. https://csnews.com/understanding-sheetzs-strategy
What’s a Sheetz? (n.d.) https://www.sheetz.com/sheetz