C-store loyalty program participation lags behind grocery and drug store programs.
As convenience stores work to build loyalty with shoppers, many retailers are exploring or implementing loyalty programs.
General Mills Convenience & Foodservice recently conducted two research projects focusing on loyalty programs across retail channels to identify ways that c-store retailers can build programs that resonate with their shoppers.
Some 348 convenience store food and beverage shoppers, ages 18-64, participated in a nationwide online survey in January and February of 2014. In addition, 382 convenience store food/beverage shoppers, ages 18-64, participated in a nationwide online idea-generation exercise to develop an “ideal c-store loyalty program.” The qualitative study was also completed in January and February of 2014.
Convenience store shoppers are avid members of loyalty programs, though participation in c-store programs lags that of the grocery and drugstore channels.
89% currently participate in some type of loyalty/reward program across a variety of channels and categories.
64% participate in a grocery loyalty program.
52% participate in a drugstore/pharmacy loyalty program.
35% shoppers participate in a convenience store or gas station loyalty program.
Shoppers who participate in a c-store/gas station loyalty program are mostly satisfied. However, there is an opportunity to increase the percentage of those who are truly passionate about participation (those who are “very satisfied”).
35% say they are “very satisfied” with their c-store/gas station loyalty program.
34% say they are “somewhat satisfied.”
31% are neutral or “unsatisfied.”
What makes a loyalty program appealing? When shoppers talked about what they like best and their “ideal” c-store program, their feedback focused on three areas.
Incent Trial: An easy signup process and immediate reward encourages shoppers to join. Seconds count in a c-store visit, so making signup as quick as possible is important.
- Simple, speedy signup.
- An incentive to join (like an instant discount or freebie).
- A reward system that’s easily understood.
Make it Worthwhile: Shoppers like to see benefits that are easily attainable, without a significant change in their current behavior.
- Points for things they’re already buying.
- Rewards provided on a regular basis.
- Regular reminders (through receipts, cashiers, or email) that keep the program top-of-mind.
Bring a Smile: Make the program fun! Shoppers appreciate surprises and customized offers. They also look forward to higher reward levels when they spend more in the store.
- Surprise deals.
- Personalized offers based on purchase history.
- Exclusive rewards for the most dedicated shoppers.
Implications/Advice for Retailers:
“Convenience store shoppers are familiar with loyalty programs from grocery and drug stores but fewer shoppers participate in c-store loyalty programs. There is definitely an opportunity to expand,” said Chris Quam, consumer insights manager at General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. “In keeping with the speedy nature of a c-store transaction, sign-up needs to be fast and friction-free. Once shoppers have joined and start participating, they will expect to see the benefits of patronizing the store on a regular basis so rewards need to be kept within reach to maintain their loyalty.”