According to the NACS 2016 Retail Fuels Report, price consideration is the most important factor for consumers when deciding where they fuel up. Even a price difference as small as $.01 per gallon, can change consumers’ behavior.
64% of gas customers say that price is the main consideration for deciding where they fuel up.
Of course, for gas station owners, simply offering gasoline at discounted rates isn’t a feasible option. Business isn’t run like that—especially a gas retail business.
You cannot just go out there, survey the market prices, and start offering gasoline at prices lower than your competition because the profit margin on direct selling of gasoline isn’t too high any way.
But at the same time, you cannot ignore what your customers want either.
What’s the solution in this case?
A customer loyalty program.
Such programs allow gas stations to leverage the power of brand loyalty and the prospect of returning customers gives gas station owners the leeway to offer gasoline at discounted rates without impacting their bottom line.
Now, this is by no means some unique suggestion – plenty of gas stations and convenience stores offer loyalty programs to customers. And truth be told, only few gas stations are able to nail their loyalty programs, while others fail to gain any traction with theirs.
Why only few succeed while majority fail?
Because customers have their preferences set in the context of loyalty programs. They want a loyalty program to carry certain features, and if a program isn’t designed to include these features, customers hardly show any interest.
What fuel customer wants in return for their loyalty?
The answer to this question can be quite subjective because not every customer has the same wants or needs. Still, without sounding speculative and based on the findings of a recently held consumer survey by GasBuddy, the four things that incent prospects to join a loyalty program are:
- It should be easy to use
- It should offer incentives beyond the offerings of a pump’s forecourt
- If a gas pump has multiple retail branches, the loyalty program should be accessible across all retail locations
- Customers should be able to use the card with more brands
In fact, if you take a look at loyalty programs that are most popular among US fuel consumers — the GasBuddy consumer survey provides insight into that — you’ll find that all popular loyalty programs offer one or more of the above listed features.
Speedway’s Speedy rewards program is the most popular among US consumers. It allows customers to earn points on every in-store purchase, and on per gallon of fuel purchases. These points can then be redeemed in the form of discounts on featured items including fuel, food, beverages and gift cards.
Similarly, if you take the example of Shell Fuel rewards program, the second most popular loyalty program among U.S fuel consumers, it is also built around the same model. It’s a point based loyalty program and these points can be redeemed by customers at Shell partnered retail and grocery shops, restaurants and more.
So, if you too want to stand out from your competition and generate more revenue, you should also implement a customer loyalty program at your gas station. To be effective with your implementation, you can build your loyalty program similar to the likes of Speedway and Shell, or you can come up with a model of your own. Just make sure you don’t forget the four features we discussed above.
Good luck and we wish your gas station all the success.
A BONUS read: How can you improve your gas station service?