Why institute a loyalty program in your C-store? The simple answer is: They work. A recent report, The C-Store Shopper Profile 2018 from Excentus, put some hard numbers behind that statement, uncovering some interesting truths. It seems that loyalty programs are now as important to the customer as location when they're choosing which C-store to visit.
Loyalty programs drive customer visits
The C-Store Shopper Profile report found:
- 44% of people choose to patronize a convenience store because of its location.
- 43% of people choose to shop at a C-store because it has a loyalty program.
- 51% of customers shop more frequently at stores where they are loyalty members, rather than at other C-stores.
- 22% shop exclusively at the C-store where they are loyalty members.
- 12% said loyalty programs had no effect on how often they patronize a C-store.
Let's break down those numbers.
Historically, people have tended to patronize convenience stores that are — not to put too fine a point on it — convenient for them. Near their homes and workplaces, or along the way between the two. But now, as evidenced by this report, a new player is in the mix: loyalty programs. The percentage of people who choose a C-store on the basis of location is nearly the same as those who choose it because of a loyalty program. That's huge.
C-stores aren't maximizing that potential
Despite the popularity and potential of C-store loyalty programs, many stores simply aren't maximizing that potential to increase foot traffic and greater spending, according to a similar study, The C-Store Shopper Report: How to Fuel Customer Loyalty, released this year from PDI.
The study, which surveyed 2,221 customers and 239 retailers, found:
- 89% of U.S. adults have visited a C-store within the last six months.
- 42.5% of consumers belong to a C-store loyalty program, up 6% from 2017.
- C-store loyalty members spend an average of 29% more per visit than non-members.
- 72% of C-store operators collect customer data via their loyalty program, but they don't necessarily use it or take advantage of the information.
And therein lies the gap, or opportunity, for stores to maximize the potential of their loyalty programs.
[For more information read: Report Shows Convenience Stores Are Not Maximizing Loyalty Programs]
How to make the most of your loyalty program to drive foot traffic and spending
These surveys, while positive and encouraging, show that it's not enough just to have a loyalty program. Using it to the fullest is a huge opportunity for C-stores to increase revenue.
- Use the wealth of customer data gleaned from your loyalty program to craft personalized messaging and custom offers.
- Train your employees in how to promote your loyalty program (a short "elevator pitch" of a few lines about why it's so great and easy to use) and give them incentives to promote it.
- Create rewards around fuel savings.
- Make your reward structure easy to understand and quick to earn.
The good news is, more and more customers are joining C-store loyalty programs and choosing to patronize those stores over others. Now is the time for store owners and operators to maximize the potential of those programs to kick things up a notch.
[For more information, download our whitepaper: 8 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Loyalty Program ]