BP Embraces the Evolution of the Retail Fuels Industry

CHICAGO — Focused on the future of the retail fuels industry and keeping pace with the fast rate of innovation, BP is giving its branded marketers a lot to be excited about this year, and onward.

With its U.S. headquarters based in Chicago, the global producer of oil and gas has developed multiple initiatives to support retail growth in the United States throughout 2020.

In an exclusive interview, Nicola Buck, head of marketing for BP Fuels, North America, discussed the highlights with Convenience Store News:

Site Experience

BP has changed its mindset about the gas station experience. In the past, it was expected that customers pulled up to the pumps and left, or they possibly ran inside the store quickly for an item or two. Now, it is “much more experience focused, not just at the forecourt but at all touchpoints,” according to Buck.

BP is working with Wayne Fueling Systems to bring to the forecourt a “very personalized, pump recognition experience,” whereby the customer and the car will be recognized. BP will then take that data and pass on promotions and personalized data-driven marketing, Buck explained. “And we will soon have new signware to take us on that journey with customers,” she noted.

Loyalty Strategy

BP is also committed to providing consumers with a seamless, personalized digital experience through its recently launched BPme Rewards program. This will allow consumers web registration and the ability to access loyalty through a phone number at the pump, as well as the inclusion of Apple and Android Pay functionality later in the year. This and other developments will be tested and rolled out throughout 2020. 

“This will be the biggest differentiator this year going into next year,” Buck told CSNews. “We want to take away the friction consumers experience at the gas pumps.”

BPme Rewards allows customers to pay from their car/mobile phone, with further developments in the works, Buck explained. For those not using smartphones, there is still the opportunity to enter a phone number at the pump for a personalized experience.

In the future, BP plans to make it “a truly differentiated loyalty program” that will utilize lots of different data points for a personalized experience, such as birth dates, etc. “We will be able to direct consumers to the nearest gas station, remind them when they need to change their oil, and offer them truly personalized promotions,” Buck said.

Consumer & Business Partnerships

Piggybacking on its loyalty program, BP is partnering with grocery/food companies — such as Mariano’s, Harris Teeter and Pick ‘n Save — to offer customers dual loyalty rewards. “This really resonates with our customers and in territories where we are doing it, we’re seeing uplifts in sales, so continuing with it is really important to us,” Buck stated.

The company is also entering into business-to-business partnerships for the sake of an enhanced retail experience. For instance, it recently joined forces with Amazon to launch Amazon Business, whereby using an enterprise Amazon Prime account, BP’s jobbers can access day-to-day products such as cleaning fluids, scissors, paper, etc., instead of going through retailers like Staples. “It saves them time because they don’t have to leave their stores; the items are delivered straight to their sites, the next day in some cases,” Buck explained.

Ultimate Digitization of the Gas Station Experience

Tying into its site experience mindset shift, BP is focused on “ultimate digitization” of the retail gas experience as it moves toward the future. The idea is not only to give customers digital payment options for fuel, but also link gas station digital payments to in-store/grocery digital payments, making the whole experience “as frictionless as possible,” according to Buck. “Then, collecting all that data to personalize the experience for our customers going forward.”

She noted that Amazon and Microsoft are really driving these frictionless and data innovations for BP. New ideas are being trialed at various points across the world.

“In New Zealand, for example, customers can preorder their coffee. In the U.K., we’re talking about how customers can preorder groceries that are then dropped into a truck,” Buck said. “Thanks to COVID, consumer demand for these options are going to speed up. COVID is driving these technologies now because consumers want to avoid touching things. We expect these technologies to really take off.”

New Fuels Advertising Campaign

Launched in the second quarter of this year, BP unveiled a major new fuels advertising campaign to promote its premium fuel: Amoco Ultimate with Invigorate. The campaign includes a multi-channel marketing plan incorporating TV, radio and digital advertisements.

To align with this new campaign, BP also announced a marketing partnership with Michigan-based Roush Performance Products Inc. The partnership will be activated with a fuel endorsement from Roush Performance for BP’s premium fuel, as well as a consumer promotion.