Nielsen Polls Customer Gas Buying Habits

As U.S. consumers prepare to hit the road for Labor Day weekend, The Nielsen Co. finds that nearly half (45%) of U.S. households are diligently seeking lower gas prices. The economy has consumers looking for cost savings across the board, even as they revert to some pre-recession habits.

“Although gas prices are not as high as they were in mid-2008, they have been edging up for some time and continue to impact how consumers shop and buy,” said Todd Hale, senior vice president, Consumer & Shopper Insights, The Nielsen Co. “Even though gas prices are reasonable relative to recent years, consumers continue to employ money saving strategies, such as using coupons and gas purchase incentives, as means to deal with gas costs given overall economic concerns.”

Nielsen’s recent Gas Price Impact Consumer Survey collected online survey responses from nearly 52,000 U.S. households, geographically and demographically representative of the total U.S. population. The survey was conducted in June and July 2010 when regular gas prices averaged between $2.70 and $2.75 per gallon. The survey found:

  • Consumers continue to combat high gas prices by combining errands/trips (63%), doing more at home (39%), and reducing spending to a small degree (29%), moderating from levels seen at the peak of the recession.
  • Eating out less (46%) and coupon use (38%) rank high as money saving strategies due to gas costs, elevated from pre-recession times.
  • Supercenters are losing some appeal for consumers seeking gas savings; only 26% of households say they shop more at supercenters to save on gas compared to 28% a year ago.
  • Sixteen percent of households say that gas prices have no impact on their driving or spending; double the response in June 2008.
  • Some consumers buy gas at locations because of incentives tied to their spending at stores where they shop, such as grocery (24%); convenience stores/gas (19%); warehouse/club (14%) and mass merchandisers (7%).
  • What is driving consumers to purchase gas at convenience/gas stores versus other locations? Of the 85% of households that buy gas in these locations, 79% do so because of low gas prices; 67% for the convenient location; 14% for the shopper/loyalty cards and 8% because they are there to purchase lottery tickets.

“Consumer packaged goods (CPG) retailers continue to demonstrate good marketing and merchandising tactics by linking in-store spending to gas savings at their pumping sites or with participating petroleum companies,” said Hale. “Some programs have been extended to reward shoppers with gas discounts and in-store savings based on gas spending. Other programs include participation from manufacturer brands. While gas prices are a bargain compared to mid-2008, filling up a 15 gallon tank represents a significant cash outlay and an opportunity for CPG retailers and manufacturers alike to offer saving solutions.”






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