Fuel rewards are No. 1 for shoppers

Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
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U.S. shoppers say they prefer fuel savings over other loyalty currency, according to new data.

A new report by loyalty marketing and technology firm Excentus Corp. shows that fuel savings, a currency that helps consumers save on the price of gas, have become a more attractive and valuable rewards currency, as 39% of consumers prefer fuel savings whereas only 35% prefer cash-back on credit cards.

“This report illustrates – among other findings – that consumers place immense value on savings at the pump, perceiving those savings as equivalent to cash,” said Brandon Logsdon, CEO of Excentus. “For brands and retailers, this means that cents-per-gallon fuel savings are the currency most likely to increase frequency, customer interactions and new revenue opportunities.”

“The Road to Rewards 2017” report found that 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.

The data also shows that programs with a fuel savings currency have been 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.

For brands, retailers and convenience stores, the insights from “The Road to Rewards 2017” present new opportunities to generate revenue and engage customers by adopting a fuel savings currency:

  • 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 (30%) have also surpassed cash-back (29%) as the rewards currency with the highest consumer engagement, with consumers earning and redeeming fuel savings every few weeks or monthly;
  • 31% of consumers (up 20% from last year) are using their loyalty program’s mobile app to manage their rewards, including redemption—by far the largest jump of any channel.

The data also found that 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.

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