Exclusive CRU14 Insights: Boost Your Marketing at the Pump

Targeted promotions delivered by technology can be key to greater sales

Jay Parsons & Lisa Stewart

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With the average time consumers spend at the pump clocking in at around 4 minutes—about double that of an in-store transaction—retailers have a great window of opportunity to trigger an additional sale on the forecourt. The trick seems to be determining the right delivery method and perfecting the content.

“Retail’s retail, whether it’s a manual pump-topper or video,” said Lisa Stewart, president of Impact 21 Group LLC, Lexington, Ky., and co-presenter at a Convenience Retailing University educational session on making more money at the pump.

“How can we do it all? And should we do it all? When you’re testing something, are you changing behavior?”

The fact is, consumers are increasingly making their fuel purchase decisions through mobile technology, far away from the nearest gas station. Stewart cited a study from The Nielsen Co. showing that two-thirds of consumers have used mobile exclusively to make a fuel purchasing decision, using a mobile app—not the web. Eighty-eight percent planned a purchase, while only 10% had a specific fueling site in mind.

Meanwhile, brand marketers are increasingly shifting their promotional dollars away from traditional media such as magazines and newspapers to digital platforms, said co-presenter Jay Parsons, senior vice president at VeriFone Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif. The main reason: It is more targeted and accountable.

With this in mind, retailers need to evaluate the tools at hand and figure out the best, most efficient way to wield them in triggering that additional purchase at the pump.

“What are the assets I have available to me and how do I make them more targeted and accountable?” asked Parsons. And there is some low-hanging fruit. For example, he noted that c-stores get only a tiny share of coupon redemption dollars from manufacturers compared to other channels. While there are various reasons for this—some retailers do not accept them, for one—it should not mean that all retailers cannot take advantage of the opportunity, using new pump marketing solutions.

“Technology can help you get your fair share of those dollars,” he said.

For example, pump advertising screens through vendors such as VeriFone, Gas Station TV (in partnership with Wayne) and Outcast Media (now part of Gilbarco Veeder-Root) provide a way to engage customers while they are a captive audience at the pump and encourage a visit inside of the store, preferably to buy an item from one of the highest-margin categories. Research shows that people are generally open and receptive of pump-side screens; the key to a successful pitch, said Parsons, is delivering relevant advertising incentives.

Crafting a pump-side marketing program involves four steps, said Parsons.

  • Capture the data.
  • Analyze and segment it.
  • Target the media to the audience.
  • Measure the results.

Digital signage allows retailers and brands to customize individual customer-centric marketing, and even craft promotions for specific parts of the day.

And the results are measurable. Let’s take that earlier coupon example. According to one case study of a retailer applying VeriFone’s targeted-marketing approach when offering coupons at the pump, the engagement rate was 5%—that is, 5% of fuel customers printed out the offered coupons. The subsequent redemption rate of these coupons was 17%.

While acknowledging that there is a lot of room for improvement, Parsons noted that pump-side, on-demand couponing also cuts out the expense and waste of traditional coupons, destined for a mass mailing.

Ultimately, a well-targeted, pump-side promotion can help cement a customer’s affinity for a brand.

“Loyalty is not just a card-and-reward offering,” said Stewart of Impact 21. “How are you trying to get the message out sooner?”