Wawa Succeeds With Experience-Based Differentiation

I’m always on the lookout for leaders who seem to understand and apply the principles of Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD). So in this post I want to highlight some of the comments by Howard Stoeckel, CEO of Wawa.

Wawa is a convenience-store chain saw its merchandise sales grow last year.  How does this private company with 8,000 employees and more than $5 billion succeed in the recession? By focusing on Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD).

This recent quote from Stoeckel represents a great example of the second principle of EBD, Reinforce the brand with every interaction, not just communications:

If there’s anything that we’re doing through these challenging times, it’s digging deeper into the soul of the brand. We’ve got to do what we’re known for that much better.

In another quote from Stoeckel, we see an excellent example of the third principle of EBD, Treat customer experience as a competence, not a function:

When we ask customers what do they like about Wawa, they say, ‘We like your people.’ And when we ask them, ‘What is it that you like about our people?’ it’s that our people like each other – and customers get caught up in that experience.

The bottom line: EBD is even more important in this economic environment

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

2 thoughts on “Wawa Succeeds With Experience-Based Differentiation”

  1. I can tell you as a consumer from the area where Wawa operates, they are truly an icon for us. People who move out of the area, talk about it like a shrine of some sort. My daughter live in KY and in a recent trip back to PA, this is the first place she went.
    They really know how to make “running to Wawa” much more than going to your local convenience store. Their is actually a Facebook page, “Wawa, no one truly understands.” because if you are not from the area, you do not understand.

    1. Hi Beth: Thanks for sharing your (and your daughter’s) experience with Wawa. I’ve never been to a Wawa, but it sounds like I need to find a way to get to one and experience the Wawa experience.

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