Cultivating a Loyal Audience

loyalty programLoyalty programs were once value-added perks. Today, consumers not only expect them, but they also demand good deals. Indeed, an attractive loyalty program can sway a consumer away from a competitor with lower gas prices.

“Over the last 10 years, particularly the last three, loyalty programs are playing a large role,” said Pat Lewis, president of Oasis Stop ‘N Go, which is based in Twin Falls, Idaho. “Maybe the street price is higher, but if you look at the rewards and discounts, the loyalty program offers more value. It’s a changing scenario.”

Lewis founded the KickBack Points program, which is now available nationally, at Oasis Stop ‘N Go in 1999. Oasis spun KickBack into a separate company in 2001.“We saw that other retailers needed a loyalty program and needed a software solution,” Lewis said. The company estimates it now has more than one million cardholders using its branded and proprietary loyalty programs nationwide. Kickback allows users to accumulate redeemable points and become eligible for prizes, and encompasses many businesses, including the 13 Oasis Stop ‘N Go c-stores, restaurants, flower shops and auto service centers.

Bob O’Connor, president of O’Connor Petroleum Co. in Hales Corner, Wis., which does business as Jetz Convenience Center, would agree. “I’m heavily into loyalty—it’s one of the signature pieces of what I do,” said O’Connor, who started the JetzRewards program in 2003. “And loyalty programs evolve like everything else.”

In February, Jetz unveiled a new Website that ties into an updated loyalty card program. Now JetzRewards offers four cards: the JetzGift card; JetzBlue, which gives customers rewards on in-store purchases, Jetz branded products and car washes; JetzGold, which works like a debit card and offers product rewards; and JetzBlack, a JetzGold-type offering but for businesses. The proprietary debit cards help ease transaction fees, O’Connor said. Having a proprietary loyalty program, keeps Jetz “nimble and quick. We can reset pricing and reward for our brands and our brands alone.”

Jetz is also working with local businesses, which will roll back prices for JetzRewards customers in exchange for promotions, particularly online. The new Website also allows visitors to pick their most frequented store to learn about partners in their area. ◆

Customers Crave Loyalty
Loyalty programs are a win-win for convenience store retailers because they allow customers to voluntarily share that data as they make their purchases. The best companies are using consumer data to help provide unique offers and create unique experiences. U.S. consumers held an incredible 2.65 billion loyalty program memberships last year, according to a report by LoyaltyOne, a Toronto-based consumer insights and analytics firm that specializes in loyalty programs.

Customers
55% Ease of redeeming rewards
51% Monetary rewards
51% Ease of earning points
36% Access to exclusive deals and coupons
22% Easy enrollment options

Businesses
34% More revenue
70% Customer retention
64% Customer engagement
14% Better customer experience

Nearly 60% of firms consider loyalty to be a top three strategic priority.

Source: LoyaltyOne Inc.

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