Convenience More Important Than Price for Top Fuel-Brand Customers

YouGov research suggests consumers consider how easy station is to access
YouGov data
Image: YouGov

When consumers in the United States choose where to stop to fill up, it isn’t always about price, according to new research.

Consumers also consider how easy it is to pull into and exit the fuel station and whether it’s conveniently located, according to data from YouGov. The station’s convenience store was a lesser factor across all brands, according to the survey responses from YouGov’s nationally representative sample weighted by age, gender, race, education and region.

Shell is No. 1

Convenient locations made Shell the No. 1 gas-station brand in the United States based on popularity of purchases, according to a May 7 consumer survey.  In surveys, 15% of respondents said they purchase fuel from a Shell station the most of any brand based on their past 10 fuel purchases.

Next were ExxonMobil, bp and Chevron, with each garnering 11% of responses, said YouGov, a global data insights firm based in London.

The next three fuel retailers were price-oriented grocers and discounters: Costco received 10% of responses, followed by Kroger and Sam’s Club with 8% of responses. Speedway also received 8% of responses, followed by Murphy USA with 7% and American Gas with 6% of responses.

For the top three brands, “convenient location” was a reason provided for at least half of the respondents, followed by “low prices on fuel,” a factor for 49% to 52% of respondents and “easy in and out,” a factor for 44% to 47% of respondents, YouGov said.

For these top brands, over one in three respondents said “brand I trust” and “high fuel quality” also were important factors in deciding where to purchase fuel.

Costco, Sam's Win for Price

Price was by far the most important factor for customers frequenting Costco, Sam’s and Murphy USA, with 70% of those respondents purchasing those brands citing price, according to the survey responses.

Price was a primary factor 57% of respondents purchased fuel most often from Kroger, according to YouGov. Half of Kroger fuel customers cited convenient location, and 44% cited “easy in and easy out,” followed by 42% who cited its “brand loyalty program,” which provides fuel discounts with grocery purchases. 

High-quality fuel was a less important factor for consumers who purchase from Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Speedway and Murphy than for customers of top fuel brands, with about one in four respondents citing this factor. Loyalty fell in the middle of the pack for most branded fuel stations among the factors cited for why they purchased fuel at the retailers. 

Less-important factors for most fuel retailers were station facilities, convenience store and discount voucher, with less than 20% of respondents citing these for most of the branded retailers listed. The branded retailers receiving the highest percentages of respondents citing, “I like the convenience on the same site,” were Exxon Mobil with 22%, bp with 20%, Speedway with 22% and American Gas with 21%.

YouGov data

Other Fuel Research

In other fuel-related research, GasBuddy said Monday the average price of gasoline across in the U.S. fell 3.9 cents from a week ago to $3.51 per gallon, but was expected to increase as oil prices rose in early trading Monday after OPEC+ agreed to further cuts in oil production, pushing the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermedia crude oil to $73.68, about $1.94 higher than last Tuesday, said GasBuddy, a unit of Alpharetta, Georgia-based PDI Technologies. GasBuddy provides gas price information on over 150,000 stations.

In May, GasBuddy said 64% of Americans plan to take a summer driving trip this year, up from 58% a year ago.

Summer gas prices on average are 6% higher than in pre-summer months, but the increase varies by state, according to an analysis from Finder.com, which provides financial information based on research.

Based on information from the last five years, summer gas prices have risen about 13% in Colorado and Idaho, more than in any other state. Other states with double-digit summer increases include Utah, where summer prices rose 12%, while summer prices registered 11% increases in Montana and Wyoming.

States with the lowest increase in gas prices during the summer months were Alabama, Arizona and Louisiana, where they increased 3% from pre-summer months and Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, where they increased 4%, according to Finder.com, which provides financial information based on research.

The different rates of increase affect the cost of a summer road trip, Finder.com said.

Last summer, a California road trip cost $133 on average, followed by $127 in Hawaii, $120 in Nevada, and $119 in Alaska. The least expensive states for a summer road trip were Mississippi at $87, Georgia at $87, Texas at $87.50 and Arkansas $88.

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