C-Store Loyalty Statistics

Posted by Cathy Harms on Fri, Oct 04, 2013 @ 11:02 AM

C-Store Loyalty Historical Facts

C-Store Loyalty Stats

One of my favorite sources for loyalty data is Colloquy.  They have done many whitepapers on all aspects of loyalty.  Every other year they do a Loyalty Census.  We have highlighted information from this in prior blogs – but the big numbers from the 2013 Whitepaper were:

  • 2.65 billion members of loyalty programs
  • 26.7% growth of US loyalty program memberships between 2010 and 2012
  • Average number of loyalty programs per US household is 21.9 up from 18.4 in 2010
  • On average a household is only active in 44% of their total loyalty programs – this is down 4.3% compared to 2010
  • There was growth in every segment – Grocery, Drug Store, Department Store, Specialty Retail and Mass Merchant.  The only segment with a decline was C -Store.

C-Store Data

With all this growth in loyalty, what happened to the c-store segment?  The numbers were so surprising to me.  How could we have statistically significant decline in c-store loyalty participation? 

Loyalty Program Memberships – C-Stores – source Colloquy





Growth 10 - 12

Growth 06-12







At first glance this looks like terrible news for my company that wants to help c-stores grow by connecting to their customers.  But the good news is in the facts behind the depressing stats.

The primary form of loyalty in c-stores since 2006 has been credit card based.  So you would sign-up for a gas credit card and get points for your purchases or get gas discounts.  As you might guess, with the major recession in 2008 the number of people using credit cards has decreased significantly.  In 2009 the average American had 3.7 credit cards and by 2012 it had decreased to 1.7.  Gas credit cards have had significant decreases because they are not the primary card used by families.  Therefore memberships in c-store loyalty programs have decreased.

The other stat from Colloquy is that active membership rates are flat which they interpret as staleness in the value proposition.  This is also true of the credit card based gas loyalty programs.  They may have given cents off, but that was the extent of the offers.  Very rarely were they tied into store purchases.  Since the credit cards were all sponsored by the big oil companies there was no marketing to the members that connected them to all that c-stores offer.  These early loyalty programs for c-stores were just to drive more people to a particular fuel brand, not to the particular c-store.

The World of C-Store Loyalty Has Changed – or has it?

The big oil players are still doing their own loyalty programs through the gas discounts, BP and Shell are only a couple of them.  The sign-up is easy, the discount is easy, and the c-store owner benefits with increased gas purchases.  But the c-store owner does not benefit from increased margins, nor do they get any information about the customers.

As Erika mentioned in the last blog, many c-stores are making the inside store customer experience great through new designs and new product offerings, especially fresh food and beverages.  Individual c-stores now have their own story to tell beyond the brand of fuel that they carry. 

Loyalty marketing is there to help any c-store with the ability to track purchases and directly connect and promote to the customers that come to their store.  Email and text marketing stats are being compiled and results look good.  All of the loyalty programs are free and there are no credit approval requirements which were part of the older c-store loyalty inititatives.

The next Colloquy study will look at 2014 information and I believe that the redefinition of c-store loyalty will show growth over the 2012 numbers just because it is a win for both consumers and the businesses!

There are a lot of opportunities for loyalty in cstores – the results deliver bottom line results.

  • Increase the basket size
  • Increase the frequency of visits
  • Decrease fraud
  • Increase profits

I am excited about going to NACs in a little over a week.  There will be more stats and data on c-store loyalty for me to share!  Visit me at Booth 3854.

Check out our video to learn more about Tecmark's c-store loyalty offerings.  

Tags: Loyalty Marketing