Grocery and big-box retailers are raking in sales once dominated by gas stations and convenience stores, according to the newly released Petroleum and Convenience Store annual survey published by Market Force. Nearly 1 in 3 fueling dollars are spent at grocery and big box locations, according to the survey, with consumers taking advantage of the convenience of an onsite fueling station and loyalty price savings while performing their regular grocery shopping.
Shell takes the lead
Among petroleum brands studied, Shell received the most fueling visits, representative of their large market share. Not far behind are Kwik Trip, Quik Trip, and Wawa, which fiercely compete for the lead with nearly identical Consumer Loyalty Index scores (determined by averaging consumers responses to the survey).
Based on Market Force’s last industry study, overall sentiment has increased, with Wawa still taking the lead. The top three brands that changed their stars to improve CLI scores significantly were Marathon Oil up by 17 points, followed by Mobil with a 15 point gain and RaceTrack up 13 points over 2018 results.
Perception of fuel quality varies
Compared to petroleum and convenience store locations, the perception of fuel quality is higher with grocery and big box retailers along with loyalty, with nearly 2 in 3 customers indicating brand loyalty. Costco and Kroger received the most fueling visits but Costco and BJ’s lead with excellence amongst their loyal customer base. The top three grocery big box brands to improve significantly were Safeway up by a staggering 20 points, followed by BJ’s with a 10 point gain, and Walmart up points compared to 2018 results.
Apps help drive traffic
Technology is also playing a key role in where consumers fuel up: Over 1 in 4 consumers surveyed now use petroleum and convenience store apps with adoption quickly growing amid the younger age group of 25-34. Retailer branded apps have outpaced industry targeted apps like GasBuddy, which now takes second place to retailers, followed by Google Maps and Waze.
Locating gas stations and comparing prices are the top used features for apps at 69% and 65%, respectively, with paying for purchases showing the greatest growth from 1% in the last survey, to 22% in 2020. This data demonstrates the role technology plays in the petroleum and convenience store industry and how having an app available may drive a consumer’s choice of brand and location for fueling.
Consumer satisfaction drivers
When it comes to consumers selecting a fueling station, driving satisfaction takes much more than having competitive gas prices. A clean, well-maintained location, good brand imaging, and a problem-free experience is critical to customer satisfaction. Requiring measurement systems in place to ensure brand integrity is at its highest and curb-appeal of each location is maintained to stay competitive.