DALLAS -- This year’s C-Store Shopper Profile from Excentus says consumers increasingly rely on loyalty programs when deciding where to transact their business.
The study examines the interests and behaviors of more than 1,000 American consumers through data gathered from a recent survey by Excentus and researcher Ipsos. It examines who convenience-store loyalty customers are, what drives them, what they value and what makes them loyal to one c-store or another.
“The convenience retail marketplace is fiercely competitive, and there is no greater advantage you can gain as a c-store operator than understanding your customers and how their behaviors impact your bottom line,” said Brandon Logsdon, president of Excentus, a provider of loyalty and coalition marketing solutions.
Click through for an in-depth look at Excentus’ study and what its findings mean for c-store loyalty …
Loyalty draws dollars
C-stores with loyalty programs are more likely to see higher traffic, have more customers and generate higher sales, according to the report. The C-Store Shopper Profile asserts that customers are more likely to shop at a store that personalizes offers based on their interests and preferences, and that these motivators go beyond simple questions of price or convenience.
When asked how their membership in a c-store rewards program affects their shopping at that store or chain, 51% of respondents said they shop at that store more frequently than other c-stores. And 22% said their membership drives them to shop only at that store or chain.
Loyalty members are bigger spenders, too. The report claims that two out of five loyalty shoppers will spend more than $10 per visit and just more than half of loyalty customers will make a purchase in addition to gas when they visit.
Keep them coming back
While personalized offers are important to an effective loyalty program, the report also says that shoppers can quickly lose interest in a rewards program if it is not simple and consistently engaging.
When asked how their membership in a rewards program influences their shopping behavior or decisions on where to shop, 36% said they tend to shop more frequently at stores where they can earn more rewards. Most rewards customers (35%) accumulate rewards until they are valuable enough to redeem on something they truly need or want, according to the report.
The Excentus/Ipsos survey found 31% of customers choose a c-store—or chain—because of its gasoline prices. Furthermore, membership in loyalty programs that provide fuel discounts have risen by 10% in the past two years, according to the study.
A full 21% of respondents said saving on the cost of fuel motivates them to use or interact with their c-store’s rewards or loyalty program. This was the highest motivating factor, with savings on both in-store items and at the pump at 18%.
However, the report also suggests that fuel is not the only option when it comes to rewards currency. The survey found while 39% of shoppers prefer to see reward currency in fuel savings, 35% say they want cash back.
Young parents and tech
Excentus’ report suggests that young parents are the most common users of technology-focused loyalty programs.
The survey found 60% of 18- to 34-year-olds use a mobile app to track and redeem rewards. The survey also found 50% of people with children rely heavily on mobile apps, while only 23% of respondents without children also rely heavily on mobile apps.
But young parents don’t seem to be the only demographic taking advantage of tech’s benefits. This year’s survey found 31% of all loyalty customers prefer to use a mobile app to track and redeem rewards, up 11% from 2016.
Who is the c-store loyalty shopper?
The Excentus/Ipsos survey found that most loyalty members are generally male (32% vs. 11% female) and young (30% of loyalty members).
A full 57% of c-store loyalty shoppers have children. Nearly half of c-store loyalty customers are college educated (43%), married (41%) and have a net household income of $55,000 or more (41%).
Ultimately, the report suggests that loyalty is all about building more profitable and lasting customer relationships with these people. Launching and maintaining a loyalty program may cost money and manpower, but the report asserts that the rewards of more loyal customers who spend more is worth the investment.