Over the years fuel’s role has changed; it is no longer the answer to a problem for how to power your car, it is now one of consumers’ many transport options.
Through innovation, the continued environmental challenge and government initiatives, fuel has become less attractive and more expensive, forcing fuel companies to reassess their strategies.
UK-based Wood Mackenzie said it is expected that the take-up of electric vehicles will cut petrol demand significantly, particularly beyond 2025, as the battery-powered cars go mainstream (Guardian).
In addition to this, and the tax rise on new diesel vehicles, the government has said that sales of all new diesel and petrol vehicles could be banned by 2040 (although hybrid cars will be exempt).
Figure 1: Electric vehicle growth
With varying pressures surrounding fuel consumptions brands need to deliver more value to customers. Some customers buy petrol purely on price, some for convenience and many for value-added benefits. Our recent study with YouGov, “what the British think of loyalty programmes” revealed a real demand for loyalty with 77% of the British population members of at least one programme and 59% thinking every brand should offer one. It also highlighted 47% will spend more with a brand if they are a member of its programme, 38% will recommend a brand more and 28% are more emotionally connected (YouGov & Mando-Connect).
Who’s doing loyalty right?
Now, BP is helping its customers with the introduction of its new app – BPme. Designed to help customers save time, the app can be used to locate the nearest BP service station and pay for fuel at the pump, without the need to queue in store.
The process is easy. Simply, link your Nectar card to your BPme app and save your latest Nectar offers, so they are ready to use automatically. You can easily view your Nectar balance and check the value of your points too.
The idea was developed as part of BP’s ongoing efforts to give every customer a positive experience when they visit one of its service stations. “We always look for opportunities that might delight our customers,” says Matt Rich, BP retail commercial offers manager. “For example, our partnership with M&S Simply Food has been very popular. But we also look at experiences that could cause frustration and we realized that, for a lot of people, their biggest irritation is waiting to pay.”
Shell Driver’s Club also offers an excellent loyalty programme with a whole host of exciting rewards from Shell and partners, from money off your everyday shopping to trips abroad. Whilst Texaco reward every time you put fuel in the tank you can fill up on points to put towards something exciting.
Esso partner with Tesco’s where Clubcard points are collected at sites, then turn turned into money off your weekly shop at Tesco stores, movie tickets, days out and more, a tactic often deployed by a variety of Grocers.
And more innovative solution throughout the US is Fuel Rewards which enables members to earn free fuel by making purchases at more than 1,400 retail locations, nearly 700 online merchants and more than 10,000 restaurants and redeem their rewards at participating fuel stations using mobile for widespread adoption.
Why is loyalty a good solution for adding value for fuel customers?
Regular engagement – Simply engaging and interacting with a brand is not enough, especially when it’s an interaction as “get in and go as quickly as possible” as occurs in the fuel sector. Consumers are also looking to connect with brands. 52% of consumers want to have a meaningful experience with a brand, not just a transaction. Through loyalty, fuel brands can open the doors to continuously communicate with their customers and can add value to their everyday life.
Acquiring data – A focal point for effective marketing strategies, with 75% of marketing managers seeing a rise in engagement through its proper utilisation. An astounding 87% state that data is the most underused asset in their marketing departments (AtomData.com), so there is more to do for loyalty marketers everywhere.
Meaningful rewards and experiences – Acquiring good customer insight will enable your brand to create personalised rewards and communications that really matter to your customers. Those rewards might be from the fuel brand itself – on fuel, or products from the retail or service offer on the forecourt – or they might be from carefully selected and curated brand partners. Our recent whitepaper also highlighted that 55% of members actively want partner rewards, not a brand’s own, making it an extremely successful reward for higher engagement.
Great member engagement is heavily reliant on the smart application of creativity, data and contextual relevance. Through creating a loyalty programme which permits all of this, fuel brands can start to improve their brand and loyalty experience for customers and members. This will drive significant brand and customer value, ultimately impacting the bottom line, now and in the future.