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Published by:
INSEAD (2018)
16 pages
Data source:
Published sources
Check out the short video trailer for a quick case synopsis.
Gaga for Wawa: Blue Ocean Retailing


Customers are gaga for Wawa, the restaurant / convenience store / gas station that inspires people to tattoo the firm's logo. Founded in 1803, Wawa morphed over time from an iron foundry to a textile mill, to a dairy farm, dairy delivery business, grocery store, then convenience store. Dark clouds descended with the 2008 financial crisis. As competitors 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. Wawa serves 222 million cups of coffee a year and 105 million hoagie sandwiches. Where the average 7-Eleven convenience 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. The case comes with a firsthand video interview of Howard Stoeckel, Vice Chairman and former CEO of Wawa (link in ‘Extra information’ section).


Restaurants; Grocery stores; Convenience stores; 7-Eleven; Gasoline; Food and beverage; Wawa; Blue Ocean Strategy; Gas station; Blue Ocean Shift; McDonald's; Strategy; Competition; Transformation; Retail

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