The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Wawa Director of Product Development Credit: Michelle Bigony

Gottahava Wawa? Wawa Director of Product Development Lynn Hochberg is happy to hear it.

Hochberg spoke at Steinberg-Dietrich Hall Wednesday as part of the Weiss Tech House’s Innovation Week. Hochberg, who has worked at Wawa for over 13 years, detailed how the business began in 1803 producing iron.

The company branched into textiles, then the dairy market and eventually became the popular convenience store it is today.

According to Hochberg, through a systematic process of constantly surveying, improving and rebranding its products, Wawa has built up a loyal base of customers who crave the convenience store’s custom-order hoagies, breakfast sandwiches and coffee.

Engineering junior Shengya Cao, who organized the event, said, “A lot of people walk into Wawa, walk out and don’t think about the innovation behind it.”

Some of these recent innovations include Wawa’s new organic brand of coffee and a touch-screen hoagie ordering system.

Hochberg added that customers will try everything once. Her job is to make sure they come back for more.

Wharton and Engineering senior Alex Yen is one of those loyal customers.

“I guess I’m one of those cult followers of Wawa,” he said. “I love the chicken sandwiches, and I love the coffee — that’s my typical meal.”

Hochberg also addressed recession-era fiscal responsibility. She said Wawa hasn’t felt the recession as much as other businesses, in part due to the company’s reduction of operating costs and the “trading down” of Starbucks customers.

To keep up with the times, the convenience store has even started offering organic coffee and has launched a green initiative, although the rationale is more profit-driven than humanitarian, Hochberg said.

“It’s cool how we affiliate with people … through a common love of Wawa,” Yen said.

While Wawa’s next step is reinventing, Hochberg said, its core products will also see a revamp — as well as Hoagiefest 2010.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.