In February of 2017, Market Force fielded research about the consumer experiences at gas and convenience stations. Over 11,000 responses were received. We asked a variety of questions—including what determines where they purchase fuel. The answers may surprise you:

Price  77% of consumers rated price as a key component for where to fuel. Price/gallon tends to be very competitive—within a few cents—so filling a ten gallon tank will only save a few quarters. But it still matters, and petro-convenience retailers will continue to pour money into real-time predictive algorithms to set pricing.

Good lighting  Security absolutely plays a role. We judge where to fuel based on whether a site is well lit and maintained and it’s easy to see inside the convenience store.

Fuel quality  The majors like BP, Shell, and Phillips 66 emphasize fuel quality. That matters as 48% of consumers gave it a 5 for importance.

Payment form  Consumers want a no-hassle experience at their petro convenience station. Offering different forms of payment (credit card, cash, a mobile app) can make it easy—but the credit card reader and the app technology had better work.

Easy entry and exits The choice to turn left or right, parking, and getting back out on the highway continue to matter.

In sum, consumers look at price, security, fuel quality, easy ways to pay, and ingress/egress when choosing where to purchase fuel. Brands must pay particular attention to these five items to be an attractive choice in a highly competitive market.

The graph below summarizes consumer ratings of importance for twenty attributes. Each was rated on a 5 point scale, where 1 = not at all important, 5 = very important.

If you’d like to learn more about our research and see the competitive benchmark results for over 30 brands, click here to schedule a briefing. And to see how one of our clients, Phillips 66, partners with Market Force to create great customer experience, watch the video.

Gail Funderburk serves as vertical practice lead for the grocery industry. She works with national grocery chains as well as regional providers, focusing on how to improve same store sales and capture market share in this fiercely competitive industry.