C-Stores, Gas Stations 'Dealing' With Social Media

22% of consumers who "liked" gas brand, c-store chain are frequent/loyal customers: NPD

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. -- "Dealing" has played a growing role in consumer purchase behavior over the past few years. During the 12 months ending October 2011, 16% of gasoline buyers chose where to purchase because of discounts, rebates or rewards, according to a new report from The NPD Group Inc., "The Future Impact of Social Media & Mobile Technology."

And more news sources are touting the impact of social media on today's retail business environment, which includes convenience stores and gas stations.

NPD's report shows that 74% of U.S. consumers use social media regularly. Considering more than 63% of those social media users access content daily, opportunities exist for building relationships with these consumers, NPD said. The report, which uncovers how individuals view their social media habits and explores their expectations of social media, examines what consumers want from social media applications, especially in terms of their c-store and fuel purchase needs.

With economic uncertainty and high unemployment, buyers are seeking to maximize their spending power. Social media users are no different, said NPD--22% look to applications to get special deals in stores, and nearly one in five respondents said they would like to receive some type of discount on the price of gasoline.

Social media platforms allow for greater access to information as users "like" or "follow" a brand.

"Engaging consumers with relevant content and value-enhancing incentives adds substance that can sustain a social media relationship," said NPD industry analyst David Portalatin. Promotions and deals especially play a vital role behind why consumers "like" a particular fuel brand or c-store chain. In fact, 22% of consumers who "liked" a gasoline brand or c-store chain said it was because they are a frequent/loyal customer.

As consumers discover new ways to access information and build brand allegiances, it is important for retailers to have a presence in the social media marketplace, NPD said. And that means a retailer has to know what buyers want today and tomorrow in terms of a social media presence. It is one way a retailer can position a business to be competitive in the future.

With headquarters in Port Washington, N.Y., NPD is a leading provider of consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. It currently helps more than 1,800 manufacturers, retailers and service companies drive critical business decisions at the global, national and local market levels. NPD helps clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising and other functions. Information is available for the automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food, home and office, sports, technology, toy, video game and wireless industries.

Its Motor Fuels Index is a comprehensive source of marketing information for understanding the gasoline consumer and tracking trends in the North American gasoline marketplace, Motor Fuels Index helps petroleum marketing companies analyze and react to shifts in consumer behavior and keep up with marketplace changes.

Its Convenience Store Monitor tracks the consumer purchasing behavior or more than 49,000 U.S. c-store shoppers. Retailers and manufacturers use the data to monitor over time which store chains consumers shop and why, what products they buy and more.