Despite changing gas prices and economic fluctuations, consumers love to save on the cost of fuel and will seek out ways to do so. That’s just one of the findings from PDI’s newly released the Road to Rewards Report 2019. With 2020 on the horizon, the report reveals how national retailers, brands and loyalty program marketers can use fuel savings as a proven loyalty currency and powerful tool for winning more customers and driving incremental sales.

The Road to Rewards Report is based on an independent survey of consumers and executives of national retailers and grocers, CPG brands, and convenience stores. The report compared this year’s survey results with year-over-year data since 2015, when the study was launched.

The Universal Appeal of Fuel Savings

If you’re gearing up to improve your customer marketing and loyalty outcomes next year, then you’ll want to know how effective fuel savings are at incentivizing consumers and loyalty program members. The number of consumers who belong to loyalty programs that offer fuel savings has grown to 66 percent this year, up from from 64 percent in 2017 and 54 percent in 2015 .

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The currency’s appeal is almost universal; 74 percent of consumers consider fuel savings important when gas prices rise, and 70 percent said they wanted those savings when prices drop.

Data also shows that while consumers’ desire for fuel savings has remained constant since 2015, their attitudes toward technology and loyalty programs have evolved. Today value and convenience influence consumers’ engagement with a loyalty program and help shape their buying behavior.

Capitalizing on the Power of Fuel Savings

Understanding consumer behaviors and their needs is key to growing any loyalty program and driving sales. The Road to Rewards Report 2019 reveals how CPG brands and retailers can use fuel savings as part of their loyalty strategies to keep existing members happy, expand their programs, and increase incremental sales.

Here are several ways to increase the convenience and value of your loyalty program, the two most important factors that drive consumer engagement.

Offer value through relevant rewards. A big segment of retailers and brands (54 percent) don’t offer fuel savings as a reward, even though consumers consider them the most valuable loyalty currency. If you belong to this group of retailers, why not update your program to include fuel savings? You could also reward members with other everyday items, such as food, beverages and snacks. Fifty percent of consumers said their primary reason for joining a loyalty program is to earn points or rewards on everyday purchases, up significantly from 23 percent in 2015-2016 and 19 percent in 2017.

For small businesses that aren’t ready to invest in a new program, a partnership with a Major Oil loyalty program offers a practical and cost-effective option. If you adopt an existing program, you can take advantage of it being in-market already and proven to help win new customers and keep them.

Make earning and redeeming rewards easy. The Road to Rewards Report 2019 shows that consumers want convenience in their programs, especially flexibility in earning and redeeming rewards. Today, 44 percent of consumers prefer using mobile apps to track and redeem rewards, up from 20 percent back in 2016 when redemption via websites was the preferred method of most consumers (39 percent).

In addition to using a robust loyalty app, you could provide flexibility and more rewards choices through a coalition loyalty program that allows members to earn rewards across multiple brands and redeem in others. A full-service, end-to-end marketing solution can help you streamline the process of earning, tracking and redeeming rewards to make it as easy as possible for members. Choose a solution that can integrate with a store’s point-of-sale system and marketing assets for seamless CRM campaigns.

Use data-driven insights to improve your program’s value and convenience. For retailers with loyalty programs, 75 percent collect consumer data. This leaves 25 percent of retailers not leveraging their loyalty programs for data collection. Only 34 percent use the data to find new customers with similar qualities to existing program members.

If you’re already collecting customer data, using the right analytics tools can help you decipher meaningful findings from all that information. Whether it’s looking at member registrations, redemptions and other customer interactions, data-driven insights can help you understand what members want and determine the types of future offers that will encourage more store visits and higher spending.

Investing in your most loyal customers is well worth the effort as the percentage of members who interact with their loyalty programs every day is up from 10 percent in 2015 to 15 percent this year. Judging by these findings, improving your loyalty program’s value and convenience by adding fuel savings to that mix is possibly the best way to increase customer engagement and loyalty and grow your topline revenues.

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