Consumer Report: Fueling Up the Visit

c-store consumer fueling trends

Nearly 60% of consumers overall buy gasoline at least once a week, but what triggers a purchase can depend on everything from brand to price.

Middle-of-the-road midwesterners

c-store consumer fueling trends

Midwesterners are the least concerned about fuel brand, least enthusiastic about alternative fuel, and the most disinclined to use touchscreens at the pump. That said, they are among the most frequent purchasers of gas. They are also price sensitive, so a fuel-rewards loyalty program could prove especially popular.

Charged-up westerners

Electric vehicle charging

These consumers are most open to buying an electric vehicle (EV), likely because states such as California have invested heavily in charging infrastructure.

Westerners were also most likely to say the brand of fuel was important in deciding which gas station or c-store to visit. They could be less sensitive to fuel prices, which trend higher than the national average here. For retailers in the West, brand can tip the scales more so than in any other region.

Corn-fed southerners

E15 fuel pump

These consumers are most likely to say they are buying more ethanol blends than they did two years ago. This likely reflects the rollout of E15 and E85 in the region by certain retailers.

Southerners were also most likely to say they seek out fuel retailers with the lowest gas prices. Considering that one of E15 and E85’s main selling points is a price advantage over E10, this could be what makes southern consumers especially receptive to these higher ethanol blends.

Independent northeasterners

Burger and fries

C-store customers in the Northeast were most likely to notice fewer gas stations nearby than five years ago. At the same time, Northeasterners were most likely to say they would visit a new c-store that did not sell gas but focused on food and beverages.

“Many of our younger customers have taken to not even owning, or rarely using, a car.

—Tim Cote, vice president of marketing, Plaid Pantries Inc., Beaverton, Ore.

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