The Prime craze has swept the nation and c-stores across the UK have been inundated with requests for the hydration drink launched by YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul.
Exclusive supply contracts meant the drink was initially only available in Asda and then Aldi, but it also made its way to c-store shelves via specialist wholesalers and has more recently become available through Spar and Costco.
The retail price of the drink has become a controversial topic, with the higher cost of imported Prime meaning many retailers would have to charge more than Asda’s £2 pricetag in order to make any money on the product.
Meanwhile, some stores have opted to hike up prices to take full advantage of the unparalleled demand. TikTok-famous Wakey Wines in Wakefield has posted a video of a woman who paid £145 for six bottles of the drink and has promoted cans of Prime for £100 each.
Other retailers are refusing to touch the drink as they don’t want to get involved in the mania and fear a customer backlash if pricing is deemed to be unfair.
With every retailer taking a slightly different approach, we speak to four C-Store Champions about their Prime strategies and how they’ve paid off.
Conrad Davies, Spar Y Maes, Pwllheli, North Wales
Retail price: £2.99
Strategy: Sell Spar stock allocation at a fair price to make it affordable for kids
Results: Sold out in two hours
“We’ve had two allocations of Prime from Blakemore, our Spar wholesaler. I had tried looking for it before then, but I couldn’t get any. Blakemore gave us an allocation of three flavours and two flavours. They basically sold out in two hours. It’s ridiculous. I couldn’t believe it. We put on a sale at just after 10 o’clock. All 28 cases had sold out by quarter past 12.
“Then we had our allocated stock in the forecourt, which arrived the following day. So we dropped them into the supermarket and, again, they just sold out in hours. We sold it at [the rrp of] £2.99, limited to two bottles per person.
“We didn’t consider charging more, I’m not one of these that is going to take the mick. Young kids are buying it so we sold it at the recommended price.
“It’s a phenomenon really. It will probably go as quickly as it’s come.”
Ajay Singh, Premier Morley, Leeds
Retail price: Only available as part of a gift hamper priced between £20 and £50
Strategy: Offer value, whilst encouraging higher spend
Results: Approaching £50,000 worth of sales in a month
“We did a massive drive on Prime in the run up to Christmas. We bought it from a van salesman, but he got it from a wholesaler, so we were buying them through a secondary route. That’s why obviously the cost for us was a bit higher.
“Because of the cost to us to buy the products, we didn’t want to sell a bottle for eight quid and have customers feel like we were ripping them off by charging a lot per bottle, so we didn’t sell it in single bottles, we just sold it in gift boxes for Christmas. We wanted the customer to feel like they were getting value for them, so we reduced our margins a little bit and made gift boxes. They had American sweets, American chocolate, crisps, Takis and a bottle of Prime. The bigger boxes would get two bottles.
“We sold nearly £50,000 worth of gift boxes over a month. On the bigger ones we’d make 30 quid - massive markups.
“The Prime cans are coming in around April time, so I think we might be doing gift boxes again for Easter.”
Aman Uppal, One Stop Mount Nod, Coventry
Retail price: Free with suggested donation
Strategy: Meet the needs of locals, whilst helping a charitable cause
Result: Money - and awareness - raised for local food hub, plus positive store image
“I’ve had probably 100 people saying ‘Aman, you’re so ahead of the trends normally, you’re the one with all the NPD - why aren’t you stocking Prime?’
“The reason I didn’t get into was because of the stock availability - with it being a UK exclusive with Asda, the stock that was available was US imported stock. And this is where the whole thing’s come about where customers are saying that some retailers have got a bad reputation for selling the product for seven, eight, nine, 10 pounds or whatever they’re doing. But the reason being is obviously they’re buying in that stock probably at five, six or seven pounds to start with because it’s an imported product with the taxes on it and it’s not actually the same product as you get in the UK, which I don’t think the customers fully understand.
“I was really fascinated by the craze, I’ve monitored it very closely. I was really impressed by the way some retailers have gone about getting it - like my good friend Amrit Pahal - it was amazing to see how he literally started wholesaling it and it’s good to see retailers acting on the spot to do these things to help other people. But for myself, personally, I thought it’s a craze I’m not going to get involved in.
“However, when the opportunity arose and there was product available at a decent price through Costco, I thought ‘right let’s do it’. We knew this would be limited, so we managed to get four cases of it - 48 bottles.
“I wanted to help people get the product. I thought let’s put a positive spin on it. With the cost-of-living crisis, we’re feeling it in the store, customers are feeling it at home, so we decided to give away the product for free in exchange for donations to Canley Food Hub. We absorbed the cost of the drinks, and that was sort of like our little donation. Anybody that wanted a bottle, we just told them the suggested donation amount is two to three pounds in line with the UK price of it at various places, but donate what you wish.
“We raised £280 pounds from 48 bottles, which works out at an average of over five pounds a bottle. Some people were putting in over 10 pounds, some people putting in a few pounds so it’s lovely to see people’s faces, they were happy and appreciated it.
“I was overwhelmed by the response actually. We weren’t really going to promote it, but we had to promote it online to make sure people knew they could come and get it. And then it sort of spiralled and I was able to go down to Booker cash & carry on Sunday (15th) and buy a load of different pallets of goods for Canley Food Hub.”
Sandeep Bains, Welcome Faversham, Kent
Retail price: £7
Strategy: Tap into TikTok trends like Prime to grow customer base
Result: New customers discovered store and bought incremental products
“You must stay up to date with anything happening on TikTok, like Prime, and make sure you’re catering to it. That can open up a whole new avenue of sales and a new target audience.
“You don’t want to look as though you’re taking advantage of customers. I did Prime just for the week leading up to Christmas. I got the stock and sold it at no great real profit, probably a quid a bottle by the time we’d paid for delivery. But it brought a lot of new people through the door and while they were there they bought a lot of American sweets and Takis, so it was an advantage.
“You’ve just got to be careful:
“1) You don’t want to get stuck with the stock
“2) You don’t want to look as if you’re taking the mick because the consumer doesn’t understand that the market price is actually £7, £7.50, so if you’re selling it for £9 there’s not much in it, but it looks as though to them you should be selling it at £1.99 because that’s how much Aldi is selling it for, but they’ve got a completely different supply chain.”