Wawa: Retailing Reinvented Through Blue Ocean Strategy - CLEO Skip to main content


This case study focuses on Wawa, the convenience store, gas station and restaurant company. 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. It used Blue Ocean Shift to achieve breakout success and thrive for a decade after its strategic pivot.  Thanks to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), employees were already invested in the long-term success of the company. A video interview of Howard Stoeckel, Vice Chairman and former CEO of Wawa can be accessed here: https://www.blueoceanstrategy.com/teaching-materials/wawa/.