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Loyalty Shift

Consumers' fuel purchases increasingly driven by discounts, rewards, rather than brand, quality

HOUSTON -- Over the past few months, consumers have shifted from brand and quality as a reason to purchase gasoline in favor of discount, rebate and reward programs, according to recent motor fuels research by market research company The NPD Group.

Based on NPD's Motor Fuels Index, which tracks consumer motor fuel purchasing behaviors and attitudes, in the third quarter of 2010, 7% of consumers surveyed cited discounts, rebate and reward programs as the reason for purchasing gasoline. The percentage rose to 8% in the fourth quarter of 2010 and to 9% in the first quarter [image-nocss] of 2011.

"Big-box chains like supermarkets have long used fuel discounts to drive consumer traffic both at the pump and in store. Now, we're seeing traditional fuel retailers getting in on this trend including alliances with big-box partners," said David Portalatin, motor fuels analyst with The NPD Group, Houston.

"Marketers who differentiate their offer around a quality fuels message are still relevant, but now loyalty-based rewards is creating an even more competitive environment," he added.

ConocoPhillips (Phillips 66, Conoco, 76), Kroger and several of its retail brands, NOCO Express, Parker's, Save Mart, Shell, Stop & Shop, Sheetz, Thorntons and Winn-Dixie are among the retailers recently adding or upgrading their loyalty programs.

(Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage of rewards programs. Alsoclick here for more coverage of loyalty programs.)

The NPD Group is a leading provider of consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, commercial technology, consumer technology, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, foodservice, home, office supplies, software, sports, toys and wireless.

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