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C-store IQ: Loyalty Report

Reap the rewards with a well designed loyalty program

 

The majority of Canadian c-store shoppers appreciate their favourite store’s loyalty program, with 63% of loyalty program members saying they are actively leveraging their membership and are satisfied with the program, according to proprietary data from Convenience Store News Canada’s C-store IQ: A National Shopper Study

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C-store IQ is the first convenience and gas specific study that delves into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of Canadian convenience consumers. 

More than 1,000 Canadians 18+ participated in the C-store IQ study, which shows that 43% of shoppers visit chain convenience stores and 38% visit independently owned convenience stores at least once a week. In turn, 70% of convenience store shoppers typically shop the same store each time, presenting massive opportunities to drive engagement and sales through loyalty efforts. 

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Give and take

Loyalty programs enable retailers to gather data about their customers’ wants and needs, but it has to be a reciprocal relationship with experiences, offers and incentives designed to make members feel valued (and, in the process, drive sales).

Done right, it works. For instance, more than one-in-four shoppers who shop for both gasoline and in-store merchandise at least once a month report they were influenced by frequent buyer/loyalty programs (28%) to shop for in-store merchandise on a recent trip. 

Research shows loyalty programs are also an effective means to engage female shoppers. While males and females are comparably influenced by different marketing tactics, the one exception is loyalty programs where females (31%) are more likely to be influenced than males (25%).  

Cultivating membership

C-store loyalty programs prove popular, however there’s plenty of room for employing tactics to expand membership. 

While more than half of shoppers frequent a convenience store that has a loyalty program, only 42% of shoppers are enrolled in and actively use their store’s loyalty program (the proportion of loyalty members that do not use the program is relatively small at only 5% of shoppers).

  •     Females (45%) are more likely than males (37%) to be enrolled and actively use
  •     Males (8%) are more likely than females (3%) to be enrolled but not use.
  •     Millennials (45%) and Generation X (45%) are more likely than boomers (35%) to say they are enrolled in a loyalty program and actively use it.
  •     Millennials (9%) are more likely to say their convenience store has a loyalty program but they are not enrolled compared to Generation X (7%) and boomers (7%).
  •     Boomers (13%) are more likely than millennials (7%) to say they would not enroll in a loyalty program even if their convenience store had one.

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While 63% of loyalty program members that are actively leveraging their membership are satisfied with the program, there are some differences when it comes to generation and gender. 

  •     Boomers (70%) are more likely to be satisfied as compared to millennials (58%).
  •     Females are slightly more likely to be satisfied (63%) compared to men (61%). 

 There’s an app for that

For many shoppers, carrying around a wallet full of bulky loyalty cards can be a deterrent. With that in mind, about half (45%) of loyalty program active members use their store’s loyalty program mobile app.  However, one in five (19%) are not using the app even though they are aware. This is a missed opportunity for retailers, as apps enable them to collect data and engage with shoppers on a new and more targeted level, such as time of day and location-based offers delivered in real time. 

  •     Males (24%) are more likely than females (15%) to be aware but not have used their convenience store loyalty program’s mobile app. 
  •     Females (29%) are more likely to be unsure if their loyalty program has a mobile app compared to males (23%).
  •     Millennials (58%) and Generation X (51%) are more likely than boomers (30%) to have used their convenience store loyalty program’s mobile app. 
  •     Boomers (40%) are more likely to be unsure if their loyalty program has a mobile app compared to millennials (17%) and Generation X (25%). 

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What’s stopping them?

While those who use loyalty programs tend to find value, there’s room to convert the doubters by addressing their primary concerns. The top three reasons shoppers say they would not enroll in a loyalty program include: 

  1.   They already belong to too many loyalty programs (35%);
  2.   Requires too many purchases to see benefits (34%); 
  3.   Rewards/points/discounts are not valuable (31%). 

Broken down by generation and gender, it looks like this:

  •     Millennials (43%) are more likely than Generation X (32%) and boomers (30%) to say that they already belong to too many loyalty programs.
  •     Males (40%) are more likely than females (25%) to feel rewards/points/discounts are not valuable. 
  •     Females (39%) are also more likely than males (28%) to be deterred from signing up, because they feel too many purchases are required to earn rewards/points. 

In addition, individuals are concerned with privacy issues: 14% of shoppers that have not enrolled in a loyalty program say it’s because they feel like they have to give away a lot of information. Males (20%) are more likely than females (9%) to feel that too much information is asked for at the time of registration.

Key takeaways

Screen Shot 2020-11-17 at 10.51.44 AMAlthough a large proportion of shoppers use c-store loyalty programs, the market is far from saturated and c-stores have ample opportunity to capitalize on the benefits of a well conceived loyalty program. 

Simply having a program is not enough: Many people say they don’t get enough value from the membership. Since shoppers today look for instant gratification, many are deterred from joining loyalty programs because they feel reward points are not very valuable or they need to make a lot of purchases before gaining any benefit. C-stores that clearly communicate a program’s larger benefits and attainable rewards are most likely to entice new members. 

It’s worth noting that while traditionally younger shoppers have been the ones to use loyalty program mobile apps, in the era of COVID-19 these demographics are shifting, with more shoppers embracing digital technology as a means to reduce touchpoints and engage in frictionless experiences. For many operators, this calls for better optimization and integration of the c-store digital infrastructure in order to increase program satisfaction and meet customers’ evolving expectations.

 

 


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C-store IQ: Marketing Report

Sign of the times: On-site communications speak volumes when it comes to enticing customers in store

Screen Shot 2020-09-01 at 1.15.22 PMAs Canadian consumers become more selective about where and when they shop, it pays to know which marketing strategies resonate with shoppers at the gas and c-store level.

Technology and on-site promotional efforts play a key role in driving consumers in store and boosting pump-to-store conversion rates, according to proprietary data from Convenience Store News Canada’s C-store IQ: A National Shopper Study

Screen Shot 2020-09-01 at 1.15.05 PMC-store IQ is the first convenience and gas specific study that delves into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of Canadian convenience consumers. 

Research shows that 43% of shoppers visit chain convenience stores and 38% visit independently owned convenience stores at least once a week. More than half of the convenience store shoppers (54%) visit preferred stores mainly due to proximity, followed by 46% who are motivated by needing to purchase gas.

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During trips where shoppers purchase gasoline and shop in-store, 3% purchase merchandise and/or foodservice ‘every time’ and 17% purchase ‘almost every time’.

According to C-store IQ data, more than one-in-four shoppers who buy both gasoline and in-store items at least once a month are influenced by frequent buyer/loyalty programs (28%) to shop for that in-store merchandise. About one-in-five (20%) shoppers are influenced by promotional signage, while 10% are influenced by promotions on their mobile app.

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More than 1,000 Canadians 18+ participated in the C-store IQ study, which revealed notable differences in how demographics responded to marketing tactics. 

For instance, millennial shoppers demonstrate a higher likelihood of being influenced by digital promotional efforts (mobile app, social media promotions, mobile ordering and email). Overall, younger shoppers are more likely to be influenced by promotional signage or car wash promotions during a shopping trip. 

Highlights:

  •     Millennials (14%) and Gen X (11%) are more likely than boomers (3%) to say they were influenced by video displays on pump. 
  •     Millennials (18%) and Gen X (13%) are more likely than boomers (3%) to say they were influenced by gasoline nozzle display ads.  
  •     Males (15%) are more likely than females (9%) to say they were influenced by gasoline nozzle display ads. 
  •     Millennials (17%) and Gen X (21%) are more likely than boomers (10%) to say they were influenced by car wash promotions.  
  •     Millennials (17%) and Gen X (20%) are more likely than boomers (10%) to say banners/window signs influenced them.
  •     Millennials (23%) and Gen X (25%) are more likely than boomers (13%) to say promotional signage influenced them.   
  •     Millennials (14%), and Gen X (12%) are more likely than boomers (4%) to say mobile app promotions and deals influenced them. 

The data shows that hunger is often what drives consumers in-store and messaging is key, especially when it comes to reaching those looking for a healthy snack. 

  •    Self-defined health-conscious shoppers (12%) are more likely than non-health-conscious shoppers (10%) to say they were influenced by gasoline nozzle display ads.
  •    Health-conscious shoppers (16%) are more likely than non-health-conscious shoppers (14%) to say banners/window signs influenced them to go in store. 

In today’s world, consumers are even more selective about where and when they shop. In turn, c-store operators large and small are working harder than ever to drive shoppers in store, which makes a strong on-site communications strategy that incorporates a variety of marketing tools, from signage to on-site promotions, essential.  

  


 

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For convenience and gas sites, the holy grail is driving fuel-only customers in store to increase overall revenue. However, 74% of shoppers say they don’t enter the store because they don’t need anything, according to From Pump to Purchase: Converting the Gas Shopper, a report from The Coca-Cola Company. Data shows time spent at the pump is a valuable opportunity to change consumers’ minds, with  31% of shoppers deciding whether to enter a store when standing at the pump. Here are five ways to make the most of the moment.

  1. Media terminals and video displays can inform, entertain and entice customers in store—they can also be easily updated with time-of-day specials
  2. Use pump toppers to promote special offers on food and drink
  3. Offer discounted fuel with in-store purchases
  4. Highlight ancillary services and products, such as ATMs and gift cards
  5. Invite customers to use your restroom 

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If the medium is the message then your store’s window is a valuable marketing tool that speaks volumes about your business. A cluttered window with out-of-date promotions, faded posters and general grit is a definite turn off and sends the wrong message to customers.

  1.   Keep windows clean.
  2.   Remove old posters etc. 
  3.   Update promotional signage from vendor partners.
  4.   Consider an LCD digital window sign that can be updated regularly and is eye-catching after dark.
  5.   Reduce window clutter by using sandwich boards to keep messaging fresh and engage consumers.

 Don’t miss

5 topline insights from C-store IQ: National Shopper Study

C-store IQ: Fuel Report

C-store IQ: Payment Solutions Report


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C-store IQ Payment Solutions Report

 

Look, no hands: Convenience shoppers prefer to tap and pay

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Cash is no longer king, having been dethroned by shoppers opting for contactless payments at the c-store level. 

Fittingly, a primary driver is overall convenience, as shoppers seek quick and easy ways to pay, whether in store or at the pump, according to Convenience Store News Canada’s proprietary research report C-store IQ: A National Shopper Study

C-Store IQ is the first convenience and gas specific study that delves into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of Canadian consumers. 

Of course, these days contactless isn’t just the word for tapping to pay with a credit card, debit card or mobile app—it’s a strategy to help combat the spread of COVID-19. 

According to C-store IQ research, the definition of convenience, for most shoppers, is an experience that ultimately saves them time and effort: 41% of those surveyed said it purely comes down to having a “convenient” experience and 34% define this as a “quick stop/in and out.” 

Screen Shot 2020-05-27 at 11.31.10 AMThis need for speed extends to the checkout experience, where tap and pay rules. It’s the method of choice for 67% of Canadian c-store shoppers when asked: “How did you pay for your purchase during your most recent in-store visit to a convenience store?”

  •     35% used a debit card 
  •     31% used a credit card 
  •     30% reached for cash
  •     1% opted for mobile payment 
  •     1% used a gift card
  •     0.3% used a retailer’s mobile app

Of course not everyone has access to a debit or credit card, which highlights another key payment option—prepaid reloadable cards issued by credit card companies. In most cases, these are sold by c-stores alongside a wide-range of gift cards. The prepaid cards are convenient for everyday spending and suitable for people who might not qualify for a credit card, budgeting, privacy or for children as an allowance card. C-store IQ data shows that 6% of shoppers purchased a gift or prepaid card during their most recent visit—that’s more than those who purchased wine (3%) or e-cigarettes (3%). 

Overall, research shows younger shoppers demonstrate higher usage of debit and mobile payment compared to older generations. As a result, convenience stores will continue to feel the pressure to offer more digital or frictionless shopping, payment, and promotional solutions.

Screen Shot 2020-05-27 at 11.31.28 AMThat pressure is mounting in the era of COVID-19, with customers across multiple generations getting on board to minimize handling cash and the hand-to-hand contact involved with payment and making change. 

 The future is frictionless

Whether spurred by convenience or precaution, C-store IQ findings are in line with overall payment trends across Canada.

New technology and payments innovation are transforming the way Canadian consumers make payments, according to Payments Canada’s annual Canadian Payment Methods and Trends report: “In pursuit of more convenient, faster and secure payment experiences, Canadians are rapidly adopting newer digital channels, such as contactless (tapping card or mobile), e-commerce, mobile and online transfers.” 

  •     Contactless payments grew 30% year-over-year from 2017-2018 with a total of 4.1 billion contactless payments (card and mobile) worth $129.9 billion at the point-of-sale. 
  •     Debit represents almost 60% of volume of these contactless payments 
  •     Debit, often viewed as a convenient substitute for cash, overtook cash for the first time 
  •     Mobile devices were used by nearly 35% of Canadians for contactless payments on a regular basis 

“We are at a pivotal moment, with a number of key driving forces that are accelerating the transformation of Canada’s payment environment,” Cyrielle Chiron, Payments Canada’s head of research and strategic foresight, said in a statement. “Evolving technology and industry innovation are changing the game, fuelled by consumer and business demands for friction-free, fast and secure payments.”

To be adaptable is to be mobile

While mobile payments represent a slower uptake than contactless cards overall, nowhere is this more apparent than at the c-store level, according to data from C-store IQ. However, the 1% of shoppers who paid with their mobile during their last c-store visit doesn’t tell the whole story. Broken down by generation: 4% of millennials used a mobile payment or a retailer’s mobile app, compared to 1% of Gen X and less than 1% of boomers. 

Survey participants said they used mobile payment apps far more frequently during transactions with other retailers, such as grocery stores, big box and restaurants. This indicates the issue might be one of the payment option simply not being widely available at the c-store level.

In fact, when shoppers did have the opportunity for mobile payment at a convenience store, more than 80% rated their experience as satisfied or very satisfied. This further implies that speed and value are primary expectations of c-store shoppers.  

According to Global Payments, merchants who “start accepting digital wallets in an ecommerce environment consistently realize meaningful benefits. These include a familiar experience for consumers, enhanced security and a flawless customer journey that minimizes payment friction.”

There are generally two approaches at the c-store level:

  1. Accept payments via mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay. Basically, this means ensuring your terminal is programmed so customers can tap and pay with their mobile phone. 
  2. Create a branded mobile app with in-app payment functionality. This is an effective way to build brand loyalty and engage with customers through rewards and special offers. Starbucks does a great job of this. 

Overall, mobile payments represent a massive opportunity at the c-store level, especially when it comes to satisfying younger shoppers. And, in most cases, this doesn’t require a whole lot of work at the operator level if your terminal is already enabled for contactless card transactions.

Cash on demand

While digital payment methods are growing in scope, it’s worth noting that cash still has a valuable role to play on the c-store landscape—after all, it usually accounts for 30% of transactions. 

The Canadian Bankers Association emphasizes that while consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels and electronic payment methods (especially during the COVID-19 crisis) cash remains important.

In fact, in recent months, the Bank of Canada stepped in, “strongly” urging retailers to stop refusing cash payments to ensure everyone could access the goods and services they need. “Refusing cash could put an undue burden on people who depend on cash as a means of payment,” the central bank said in a statement.

Convenience stores also play an important role in ensuring Canadians have easy access to cash. Of the ancillary services offered by c-stores, ATMs came out on top, with 24% using an in-store ATM, according to C-store IQ data. In this case, millennials (29%) are more likely than boomers (20%) to use the ATM. 

The bottom line, according to data from C-store IQ, is convenience stores that prioritize simplifying the shopping and purchase steps are more likely to see rewards with increased traffic and basket size. This means operators of all sizes can benefit from offering multiple payment solutions spanning credit, debit, mobile and prepaid card acceptance. Whatever the motivation—speed or safety—as more consumers go contactless, they’re opting to shop at c-stores and gas sites that accommodate these payment solutions. 

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