In today’s fast-paced world, gas stations are not just pit stops for refueling. They’re places where consumers shop for convenience items, grab a quick snack, wash their cars, and in some parts of the country, shower and toss in a load of laundry. With an emphasis on providing a clean and contemporary appearance, gas station owners are striving to meet the expectations outlined in an article by Chain Store Age based on a survey of over 1,500 Americans.
In addition to the findings outlined in the article, we’ve combined our findings on what consumers are looking for when they go to fill up their tanks. Here’s what we know about consumer behavior when it comes to the selection of a favored gas station:
- A Clean, Modern Appearance: First impressions go a long way. A clean, well-maintained appearance is a top consideration for choosing a station. Aesthetic appeal matters as much as functionality. Bright, clean, well-lit forecourts, modern architecture, and clear signage contribute to a positive visual experience and make customers feel comfortable and secure while on the premises.
- Competitive Pricing and Loyalty Programs: Nine in ten (90%) consumers surveyed stated price at the pump impacts their decision when choosing a gas station. Almost two-thirds (64%) go to the cheapest gas station if it’s close by, while 24% go to the cheapest gas station even if it’s out of the way. Nearly half of respondents (48%) are not willing to pay over five cents more for gas if it means earning loyalty points, while one-quarter (25%) state they favor loyalty points over price.
- Digital Integration: Consumers prefer digital screens at the pump and in the store that provide them with dynamic information, including promotions, real-time fuel prices, discounts, and savings offers. A majority of consumers prefer stations with mobile apps that offer convenience at the pump and allow them to pay for fuel, order food, and access loyalty programs from the comfort of their vehicles. Paying for fuel and convenience items this way enables them to avoid paying by cash or risk having their credit card data misappropriated.
- Quality Food and Beverage Options: Consumers increasingly seek quality food and beverage options. Fresh, healthy choices and a variety of cuisines appeal to a broader customer base, transforming gas stations into quick dining destinations. Including a cafe, grab-and-go store items, and partnering with popular food brands are all value-added services that help station owners meet consumers’ evolving preferences.
- Efficient, Friendly Service: Prompt and courteous service remains a top priority for customers who appreciate well-trained staff who handle transactions quickly, assist with inquiries, and maintain a positive, friendly attitude. Exceptional customer service also goes a long way to build loyalty and enhance the overall customer experience.
- Environmental Responsibility: In an era of heightened environmental consciousness and concern, customers are attracted to stations that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Eco-friendly practices, such as offering alternative bio-fueling options, recycling programs, and minimizing plastic waste resonate positively with consumers who value companies that prioritize environmental responsibility.
Other factors play an equally important role for consumers deciding where to fill up, including the following considerations:
- Safety and Security: Consumers prioritize their safety when visiting gas stations, especially during late hours. Well-lit areas, security cameras, and visible security personnel contribute to a sense of safety, encouraging customers to choose gas stations that prioritize their well-being.
- Clean Restrooms: Clean and well-maintained restroom facilities are a significant factor in a positive gas station experience. Consumers appreciate access to clean restrooms that are regularly sanitized and stocked with essential amenities.
- Ample Parking Space: Having enough parking spaces is crucial for customers, especially during busy hours. Gas stations that provide ample parking, with clearly marked spots, make it convenient for customers to access fuel, food, and other services without the hassle of finding parking.
- Contactless Payment Options: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, contactless payment options have become increasingly important. Consumers prefer gas stations that offer various payment methods, including mobile wallets and NFC-enabled cards, to minimize physical contact during transactions.
- Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles (EVs): As electric vehicles become more popular, the availability of charging stations is a significant consideration for EV owners. Gas stations that offer EV charging options attract a growing segment of environmentally conscious customers.
- Free Wi-Fi Access: With the increasing reliance on digital connectivity, gas stations offering free Wi-Fi access provide an added convenience for customers who want to stay connected while they refuel or take a break.
Gas stations have evolved into multifaceted convenience centers that cater to the dynamic desires of modern customers. As the industry continues to adapt to changing consumer preferences, meeting these expectations is pivotal in ensuring a competitive edge and building lasting customer relationships. We’re here to create great customer experiences.