Price, deals, discounts and loyalty programs are increasingly influencing where consumers purchase gas, how much they spend and which brands they purchase, according to recent motor fuels research by The NPD Group.
Volatile gas prices and a challenging economic environment have taught fuel consumers to seek out deals, discounts and loyalty programs to get the best value for their money, NPD found.
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, noted NPD’s “Price, Deals, and Discounts: Consumer Expectations at the Pump” report. Loyalty programs that offer cash discounts are of particular interest to the fuel buyers surveyed for the report. Thirty-eight percent of these consumers said they were more likely to use gas brand loyalty programs that offered cash discounts.
Car Wash Investments
As retailers look to drive traffic to the forecourt, car washes will play an important role. Convenience store and gas station retailers with car washes have faced a challenging 3-4 years in the car wash industry, and as a result have mostly refrained from new development of car wash sites.
“We know from our equipment sales reports that there have been low levels of investment, particularly at petroleum c-store car wash sites,” said Eric Wulf, CEO of the International Carwash Association (ICA).
But that could change over the next 12 months. “There are a couple reasons why we are emerging now. One is, of course, the economy is stabilizing,” Wulf said.
“Secondly, many car washes have been divested along with gas stations over the last 10 years and the new owners are, in many cases, petroleum marketers and c-store retailers, who spent a lot of money revamping their new gas stations and then had to take care of other required expenses like PCI compliance in the middle of a down economy. So they have had a lot of things to deal with before they could even focus on improving the car wash on the side of their property.”