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When it comes to convenience store and petroleum loyalty rewards programs, there are often many streets to cross in matching up consumers and the various brands that offer those services.
But with PDI’s recent acquisition of the GasBuddy mobile app used by drivers to find and share real-time fuel prices and save money on gas, it seems that road is becoming a lot less difficult to travel.
“We'll be creating opportunities at the very intersection of consumer desire and need and the offerings of our retail partners that we serve and support through our software and the loyalty programs that we manage,” says Brandon Logsdon, president and general manager for Marketing Cloud Solutions at PDI, whose software helps businesses and brands increase sales, operate more efficiently and securely, and improve critical decision-making.
5M Active Users Buying Billions of Gallons
GasBuddy has five million active mobile users, representing billions of fuel gallons and hundreds of millions of dollars of convenience retail spend, and the GasBuddy app generates fuel pricing information on 150,000 stations across North America.
Logsdon says while the most common use is peer-to-peer interactions from users searching and posting local gas prices, the app also enables reviews of facilities and supports wayfinding. He says it represents a great opportunity to bring more value to the consumer.
“We will create eloquent ways for consumers to get the most out of their loyalty programs,” Logsdon says. “We'll be effective in how we communicate to members, known as GasBuddies, the existence of a retail loyalty program and the opportunity to reap more benefits at the retail locations that they are frequenting.”
Unbranded Chains and Multiple Brand Chains
The U.S. has about 150,000 convenience stores, most of which have petroleum attached to them. Logsdon says that within that, about 50,000 are chain-operated, meaning two or more stores under common ownership.
“That’s 100,000 of the 150,000 that are defined as single-store operators,” he says. “So truly, one person and one store.” This structure presents unique challenges by creating a highly fragmented convenience store and gas station market.
Included in those 50,000 chain c-stores are chains with unbranded fuel and chains that have more than one fuel brand associated with their convenience store brand. It’s a complex setup, but also one that is looking for some unity and cohesion in wherever it can find it.
And that’s where Logsdon says PDI wants to take the GasBuddy app and many of its other technology solutions to help build customer loyalty and engagement.
“When you think about customer loyalty, there are three key things that you want to do,” he says. “You want to acquire consumers into a program, engage them in the program, and then you want to collect data and glean insights into customer behavior. It's really hard to do in this market segment, so you have to have intimate knowledge of these complexities, and then you have to have technology solutions and know-how that help make sense of these complexities.”
Putting together a meaningful program that is communicated well and drives true customer value and loyalty at scale is the key to success in the petroleum and c-store industry, says Logsdon. Since 1983, PDI has served over 1,500 companies in the convenience retail and petroleum wholesale industries, representing more than 200,000 locations worldwide.
Logsdon says the app will be used as a natural intercept tool to give GasBuddy consumers awareness and access to customer loyalty programs in the areas they shop and fuel up. That process is part of PDI’s goal of having an ‘end-to-end’ solution for their customers. Some may want to use pieces and parts of their ecosystem, and PDI is happy to do that, as well. Logsdon says the best strategy is not always to throw out what they have and replace it with something else; he says it can very much be an augmentation of what a brand or CPG already has in place.
“If you have an analytics engine you really like, and you like our loyalty engine – you don't have to use our analytics engine,” Logsdon says. “Use our loyalty engine, and we can export data to whatever data warehouse, data lake, or data facility you're interested in. To me, that’s where loyalty is today.”
Sourcing CPG Offers Directly from Brands
PDI will also make nationally funded CPG offers from its Offer Network directly available to GasBuddy members, Logsdon says. This will provide the consumer an opportunity to save money on c-store products or earn a reward, while helping to increase c-store sales. PDI’s Offer Network reaches 35,000 plus locations with CPG-funded national and regional consumer promotions each month, increasing brand interaction and consumer loyalty.
“One of the unique things about GasBuddy is we own the consumer relationship,” Logsdon says. “So we have more control over what we can share with retail partners relative to where GasBuddies are shopping, when they're shopping, and what they're buying. And that’s going to be really powerful.”
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