Death of brand loyalty: 80 percent of drivers unfaithful at the pump

(April 24, 2019) BOSTON — While consumers are passionate about their favorite coffee brand, they have no preference for the brand of gas that’s pumped into their vehicle. GasBuddy finds that gas station loyalty has declined in the past three years, with 5% fewer customers citing brand loyalty as a reason to choose a gas station.

In fact, data from GasBuddy’s Pay with GasBuddy program shows that more than 80% of consumers who fill up four times per month or more do so at multiple fuel and convenience brands in any given month.

In an effort to understand consumers’ brand loyalty and purchasing habits at the pumps, six months of point-of-purchase data was examined from the Pay with GasBuddy program, the first-of-its-kind fuel savings program that gives drivers a discount on virtually every gallon of gas they will ever pump with more than 500,000 members and $220 million in total purchase volume.

The data reveals that nearly 50% of drivers fill up four or more times per month. Among those drivers, 81% went to multiple brands, while only 19% went exclusively to one brand. Not much changes for drivers with fewer fill-ups: out of those who fill up three times per month, 77% went to multiple brands, while 23% went exclusively to one brand.

“Unlike grocery and apparel retailers, the fuel and convenience industry is servicing a truly brand-agnostic consumer,” said Sarah McCrary, CEO at GasBuddy. “With on-the-go drivers sensitive to the price of fuel, the station location and the quality of the amenities, the key to seeing returning customers is delighting them with offers that are timely and relevant to their particular trip.”

Targeted fuel discounts issued through the Pay with GasBuddy program have helped fuel and convenience brands capture incremental market share and drive new business, further proof of the lack of brand loyalty.

Showing an additional 5 cents per gallon incentive to net-new or disengaged customers has allowed fuel retailers to capture as much as 1 out of 4 of that segment’s fuel purchases.  Fuel retailers have seen that same incentive double their market share even amongst their frequent customers, from 1 in 3 transactions made at their brand prior to a campaign, to 2 out of 3 during the promotional period.

Examining Pay with GasBuddy point-of-purchase data by region in the United States, the Midwest has the highest concentration of brand-agnostic drivers, with 82% going to multiple brands in any given month. The region with the most loyal customers is the Northeast, with 24% of drivers who fill up 4 or more times per month visiting the same brand for all fill-ups.

The  rankings by region suggest that brands on the more congested coasts see less competition for loyal customers than the open areas of the south and Midwest.