Fuels

Half of Consumers Use Loyalty for Gas Discounts: Study

Buying behavior in the forecourt is changing
gas station fuel dispenser
Photograph: Shutterstock

STAMFORD, Conn. — Rising gas prices are spurring U.S. consumers to use payment options that offer the best discounts at the pumps, according to Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner.

A Gartner Consumer Community survey of 301 U.S. consumers, conducted March 10-17, 2022, revealed that half of respondents use loyalty cards or apps to receive gas price discounts. General purpose rewards or cash-back apps are currently experiencing explosive growth, according to Gartner.

Forty percent of respondents use a specific type of discount credit card at gas stations. These may be co-branded retailer cards for a particular gas station or a rewards credit card offering cash back on gas purchase.

“Brands that opt to make it easier for customers to save money and capitalize on discounts, such as with loyalty cards, are better positioned to benefit from market fluidity,” said Ross Cosner, vice president analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice.

The survey also showed that dueling digital purchase paths for co-branded credit cards create confusion—not just for the retailers and banks involved, but also for customers. Prospective customers are often left wondering whether it is better to apply for a new credit card directly through the gas station website or through the bank.

“The key challenge is to avoid overlapping marketing spend for new card applications in the form of duplicate landing pages or bidding on the same keywords for search text ads,” said Kyle Rees, senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “Eliminating channel ownership and role confusion among retailers and card issuers is an important step given the continued increase in monthly search volume for discount credit card products.”

In the near-term, Gartner suggests gas station retailers promote loyalty program options and quantify cost savings. Consider the ways loyalty programs can be accessed, for example—through a loyalty program card, a branded mobile app or by using third-party application program interfaces to deliver personalized promotions directly through a branded app.

The study also recommends retailers highlight quantifiable benefits of discount credit cards. Simplify consumers’ decision-making experience when choosing discount credit cards by highlighting quantifiable discounts for consumer staples such as gas. Clearly distinguish anticipated savings and perks with similar products across consumer-facing product information.

Finally, the study says retailers should clarify marketing responsibilities of co-branded credit card partnerships. Identify preferred purchase paths across digital touchpoints and obtain agreement on responsibilities from key stakeholders involved in the partnership.

“Saving money at the pump isn’t just for the cost-conscious consumer. By amplifying discount options with a clear and quantifiable value proposition, brands can help relieve the squeeze many consumers constantly face due to financial pressures,” said Cosner.

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