HOUSTON -- Price, deals, discounts and loyalty programs are increasingly influencing where consumers purchase gasoline, how much they spend and which brands they purchase, according to recent motor fuels research by The NPD Group, a leading global information company.
Volatile gasoline 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, showed a new NPD report, Price, Deals & Discounts: Consumer Expectations at the Pump.
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, based on the report's findings. The NPD report, which examines how fuel buyers perceive and use deal and loyalty programs and identifies the potential opportunities and threats for fuel retailers, finds that of the 3,740 consumers surveyed, 28% reported participating in a motor fuel brand loyalty program.
Loyalty programs that offer cash discounts are of particular interest to the fuel buyers surveyed for the report; 38% of these consumers said they were more likely to use gasoline brand loyalty programs that offered cash discounts. Female consumers were more likely to be swayed by these cash discounts than males, said NPD. Even among nonusers of gasoline brand loyalty programs, there is interest in participating; however, they want a little more incentive to join. These potential customers want even greater discounts, according to the report.
In terms of discounts, the NPD report found that two out of three fuel buyers reported switching brands due to price. More than one-third of all gasoline buyers said it would take a discount greater than 10 cents per gallon to get them to switch gas brands, 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.
"Clearly, fuel discounts are a game-changer in today's market," said David Portalatin, NPD motor fuels industry analyst. "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."
The NPD Group, Houston, provides global information and advisory services, covering the automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food, foodservice, home, office supplies, sports, technology, toy, video game and wireless sectors.