C-Store Marketers: Get Your Customers to Turn Left

It’s rush hour on a weekday and a potential customer, let’s call her Sarah, is driving along a busy and traffic-jammed road. She’s had a long day at the office, but she can’t go straight home just yet – she’s noticed her gas tank is low. It’s time to fuel up.traffic jams in the city, road, rush hour

After crossing through a clogged intersection, Sarah sees two convenience stores with gas pumps: Store A the right side of the road, and Store B on the left. Buying gas at Store A would certainly take less time – one simple right turn off of the street and she’s in the lot pumping fuel. Making a right turn out of the lot once she’s finished should be smooth going, too. To get to Store B, however, she’d have to wait for the backed-up traffic in the opposite lane to either pass entirely, or wait for a kind soul to let her through the lane into Store B’s lot. Either of those waiting options requires more time and potential frustration, and leaving Store B would require yet another left turn. Which convenience store will she choose for her gas purchase?

Sarah turns left, deciding that visiting Store B is worth waiting in traffic. Why would she do this?

She’s rewarded for it!

The Store B is part of a convenience store chain that has a rewards program. Even though they are challenged by national, even international chains, they are able to win customer loyalty and maintain a competitive advantage. Rewards programs provide customer insights that can be used to build relationships. With the data, brands create targeted, relevant, and financially successful promotions.

Sarah feels connected to Store B because they know her visit and spending habits, and send her offers that she enjoys using. She also gets points for buying gas, so the cost of time for this particular visit is worth the points she’ll earn towards a reward.

C-store marketers are able to enhance promotion profitability by sending more personalized offers. Reward programs also grace marketers with the power to answer the questions “Who would have come in anyway?” or “Which customers would have happily bought this product at full-price?”, so they can finally stop cannibalizing full-price sales.

Revamping your convenience store marketing strategy with a rewards program drives more fuel customers into the store, generates more revenue, and ultimately keeps your brand at the top of customer’s minds – even to the point where they’ll go out of their way for you. Understanding your customers allows you to see beyond simply what products you’re selling, but who is purchasing them and when.

Many convenience stores in the U.S. have already adopted the loyalty philosophy, and leading brands like Thornton’s Inc. have wildly successful programs. Consider launching a loyalty program this year – you’ll shatter your 2016 marketing goals.

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