TECHNOLOGY

Study: Loyalty members still value fuel savings over cash-back rewards

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

When it comes to loyalty rewards, customers want their programs to deliver savings at the gas pump.

For the third year in a row, loyalty consumers in the United States ranked fuel savings as their preferred loyalty currency (39%) over cash-back rewards (35%), according to “The Road to Rewards 2017,” a study from loyalty marketing and technology firm Excentus Corp. and Ipsos.

The ability for loyalty programs to influence customer behavior is on the rise, with 36% of consumers — compared to 26% in 2016 — shopping more frequently at stores where they can earn fuel savings. And fuel savings currency is steadily increasing.

Memberships in fuel loyalty programs have risen 10% in the past two years, with 64% of Americans participating in a program that helps them save on the cost of gas. Up from 54% in 2015 and 59% in 2016, no other specialty loyalty program or reward type in the U.S. has enjoyed comparable growth in this time span, the study revealed.

This also offers opportunities to retailers, as 20% of consumers reported shopping specifically at stores where they can earn rewards that help them save on the cost of fuel, and 22% will shop exclusively at a convenience store where they are a loyalty program member.

Fuel savings also drive higher consumer engagement, as shoppers that earn and redeem fuel savings (30%) visit every few weeks or monthly versus those who prefer cash-back (29%).

Consumers want to save on fuel regardless of gas prices: 73% stated it is important to earn rewards that save on fuel when the price of gas rises, and 58% echoed the identical sentiment when the price of gas falls. This demonstrates that gas prices remain top-of-mind, even in a stable economy, and consumers look to their loyalty programs to save money and add value to their everyday transactions.

Meanwhile, 31% of consumers (up 20% from last year) use their loyalty program’s mobile app to manage their rewards, including redemption — by far the largest jump of any channel, the study said.

“Cents-per-gallon fuel savings are the currency most likely to increase frequency, customer interactions and new revenue opportunities,” said Brandon Logsdon, CEO, Excentus.

“Fuel is a predictable, consistent and repeated expense, and discounts at the pump have a direct impact on consumers’ wallets,” added Logsdon. “The unique relationship consumers have with this commodity makes fuel savings a near universal and highly relevant reward currency.”

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