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Reference no. 318-0129-1
Published by:
INSEAD (2018)
15 pages
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Gaga for Wawa: Blue Ocean Retailing


Customers are gaga for Wawa, the restaurant / convienence store / gas station that inspires people to tattoo the firm's logo. Founded in 1803, the company morphed over time from an iron foundry to a textile mill, to a dairy farm, dairy delivery business, grocery store, then convienence store. Dark clouds descended with the 2008 financial crisis. As competitiors converged on Wawa, management recognized the need for a new direction. After the CEO asked his executives to review a selection of business books, they chose Blue Ocean Strategy to redefine industry boundaries, shifting away from the red ocean of competition to a blue ocean of differentiation and low cost. By 2017 Wawa was the 34th largest private company in the US, with 625 million customers and sales of USD10.5 billion. It serves 222 million cups of coffee a year and 105 million hoagie sandwiches. Where the average 7-Eleven convienence store grosses USD30,000-USD35,000 per week, Wawa averages USD116,000. It used Blue Ocean Shift to achieve breakout success and thrive for a decade after its strategic pivot.


Retail; Gas station; Convenience store; Grocery store; Restaurant; Quick serve restaurant; Fast casual restaurant; Wawa; 7-Eleven; Blue Ocean Strategy; Blue Ocean Shift; McDonald's; Panera; Chipotle

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