Fuel Perspectives

January 2013

Where's the deal?

More and more, consumers are primed to look for extra value in their purchasing behavior. When it comes to restaurants, drugstores, department stores, and even gas brands, retailers are seeking to make a greater connection to buyers, often through loyalty-based discounts. But what do consumers think about these loyalty programs when purchasing gasoline? In our recent report, Price, Deals, and Discounts: Consumer Expectations at the Pump, we examined exactly how fuel buyers are interacting with the various program features available today, and what they expect from their gas brands. The report shows 28 percent of the consumers we surveyed reported participating in a motor fuel brand loyalty program.

Driving Results
Over the past few years, our Motor Fuels Index has shown that when gas prices are volatile, consumers turn to loyalty programs. In fact, of all reasons for brand purchase, discounts and rewards have grown the most over the past three years. The Price, Deals, and Discounts study found these programs are influencing where consumers purchase, how much they spend, and even which brands they purchase. “Of the changes that have taken place in the retail fuels environment over the past decade, loyalty programs appear to have had the greatest impact in changing consumer behavior,” our industry Analyst, David Portalatin, said.

Money in Their Pockets
Thirty-eight percent of fuel buyers said they were more likely to use gas brand loyalty programs that offered cash discounts. Interestingly, female consumers were more likely to be swayed by these cash discounts than males. Even among non-users of gasoline brand loyalty programs, there is interest in participating, however they want a little more incentive to join. Notably, these potential customers want even greater discounts.

NPD Group |  Market Research | Reports and Trends

Understanding just how much of a discount would convince consumers to join these programs is the challenge. More than one-third of all gas buyers said it would take a discount greater than 10 cents per gallon to get them to switch, while one in 10 said they would not switch for any type of discount. Discounts of 10 cents and less are swaying the bulk of this behavior in the marketplace.

Portalatin said, “Fuel discounts are a game-changer in today’s market. Whether or not fuel marketers implement a discount program, it is imperative that they create value for the consumer in some aspect of the purchase occasion — whether price, quality, rewards, or some other attribute of the purchase experience.”

To learn more about our Motor Fuels Index call Charles Camaroto at 866-444-1411 or email contactnpd@npd.com.

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