As convenience stores work to build loyalty with shoppers, many retailers are exploring or implementing loyalty programs. General Mills Convenience & Foodservice recently conducted two research projects focusing on loyalty programs across retail channels to identify ways that c-store retailers can build programs that resonate with their shoppers.
- 348 convenience store food and beverage shoppers, ages 18-64, participated in a nationwide online survey in January and February of 2014.
- 382 convenience store food/beverage shoppers, ages 18-64, participated in a nationwide online idea-generation exercise to develop an “ideal c-store loyalty program.” The qualitative study was also completed in January and February of 2014.
- Convenience store shoppers are avid members of loyalty programs, though participation in c-store programs lags that of the grocery and drugstore channels.
- 89 percent of c-store shoppers currently participate in some type of loyalty/reward program across a variety of channels and categories.
- 64 percent of c-store shoppers participate in a grocery loyalty program.
- 52 percent of c-store shoppers participate in a drugstore/pharmacy loyalty program.
- 35 percent of c-store shoppers participate in a convenience store or gas station loyalty program.
- Shoppers who participate in a c-store/gas station loyalty program are mostly satisfied. However, there is an opportunity to increase the percentage of those who are truly passionate about participation (those who are “very satisfied”).
- 35 percent say they are “very satisfied” with their c-store/gas station loyalty program.
- 34 percent say they are “somewhat satisfied.”
- 31 percent are neutral or “unsatisfied.”
- What makes a program appealing? When shoppers talked about the programs they like best, as well as their “ideal” c-store program, their feedback focused on three areas.
- Incent Trial: An easy signup process and immediate reward encourages shoppers to join. Seconds count in a c-store visit, so making signup as quick as possible is important.
- Simple, speedy signup.
- An incentive to join (like an instant discount or freebie).
- A reward system that’s easily understood.
- Make it Worthwhile: Shoppers like to see benefits that are easily attainable, without a significant change in their current behavior.
- Points for things they’re already buying.
- Rewards provided on a regular basis.
- Regular reminders (through receipts, cashiers, or email) that keep the program top-of-mind.
- Bring a Smile: Make the program fun! Shoppers appreciate surprises and customized offers. They also look forward to higher reward levels when they spend more in the store.
- Surprise deals.
- Personalized offers based on purchase history.
- Exclusive rewards for the most dedicated shoppers.
Implications/Advice for Retailers:
“Convenience store shoppers are familiar with loyalty programs from grocery and drug stores but fewer shoppers participate in c-store loyalty programs. There is definitely an opportunity to expand,” said Chris Quam, consumer insights manager at General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. “In keeping with the speedy nature of a c-store transaction, sign-up needs to be fast and friction-free. Once shoppers have joined and start participating, they will expect to see the benefits of patronizing the store on a regular basis so rewards need to be kept within reach to maintain their loyalty.”