Identifying Three Types of Fuel Customers

VideoMining: An average of 27 percent of c-stores' in-store traffic originated from the pump in 2022.
Customer paying for gas with smartphone

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — In today's competitive landscape, it's more important than ever for convenience store retailers to understand their store performance as it relates to the shopper experience and what marketing tactics will appeal most to consumers.

Convenience retailers should first consider whether customers are coming from the gas pump, or parking and coming directly into the store, according to the latest VideoMining Nugget centered on pump-to-store conversion.

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In 2022, VideoMining observed an average of 27 percent of c-stores' in-store traffic originating from the pump. "This provides a critical first step to understand shopper missions and behaviors so retailers and suppliers can more effectively market to customers with messaging tailored to their specific journey. But even this does not tell the whole story," said Alicia Cleary, vice president of marketing and industry relations,  VideoMining.

The moment a fuel buyer steps out of their car and pops the lid to their tank, a fuel sale has most likely been generated. Pump-level transaction data provides a piece of the puzzle on average spend and fuel volume. NACS CSX Database reports pump transactions were up 8.9 percent last year, while volume sold remained relatively flat.

"The next question you should ask is … then what? That all depends on where the fuel buyer pays for their fuel purchase: at the pump or in the store? Monitoring traffic patterns and shoppers' step-by-step journey provides the missing link of the fuel buyer story and exposes unique customer segments that retailers should observe and tailor messaging to," Cleary pointed out.

VideoMining identified three segments of shoppers:

Gas-and-Gone Customers 

VideoMining's in-store behavior tracking found that the percent of fuel buyers who pull up, pay at the pump, get back in their car and leave represented 55 percent of fuel buying trips in 2022.

"These customers might be the farthest away from being converted to in-store buyers, but effective marketing based on this knowledge can drive higher pump-to-store traffic and incremental in-store purchases. To get there, retailers must ask themselves how they are marketing to this captive audience at the pump, and continuously test messaging and promotions to uncover opportunities to win," said Cleary.

Two-Stop Shoppers

Two-stop shoppers, who pay for their fuel at the pump and then walk into the store, have made an intentional choice to cross the threshold, making them a valuable primed audience for cross-promotions, impulse purchases and foodservice bundles. Strategic testing of in-store merchandising placements and messages can uncover insights to unlock opportunities for incremental revenue and higher basket rings from these journeys, according to VideoMining.

Fuel Buyers Who Pay Inside

Fuel buyers who walk inside the store to complete their fuel purchase can either pay for gas and exit or become in-store buyers during that trip. The merchandising that the fuel buyer is exposed to on their way to the counter will make or break their conversion to in-store shoppers. Enticing messages that start at the pump and work their way through the store entrance and checkout area can encourage impulse purchases and drive traffic towards key categories. 

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"An in-depth front end behavioral study, plus ongoing test and learns of various in-store solutions can help you evolve your strategy over time," Cleary suggested.

State College-based VideoMining provides comprehensive behavioral insights around in-store shopper experience for retail and consumer packaged goods companies.