Americans Spending More on Gas; Purchase Influenced by Discounts, Loyalty Programs

Price, deals, discounts, and loyalty programs are increasingly influencing where consumers purchase gas, how much they spend, and which brands they purchase, finds recent motor fuels research by The NPD Group . Volatile gas prices and a challenging economic environment have taught fuel consumers to seek out deals, discounts, and loyalty programs to get the best value for their money, according to the new NPD report, "Price, Deals, and Discounts: Consumer Expectations at the Pump." gas

Of the changes that have taken place in the retail fuels environment over the past decade, loyalty programs appear to have had the greatest impact in changing consumer behavior, based on the report’s findings. The NPD report, which examines how fuel buyers perceive and use deal and loyalty programs and identifies the potential opportunities and threats for fuel retailers, finds that of the 3,740 consumers surveyed, 28% reported participating in a motor fuel brand loyalty program.


Loyalty programs that offer cash discounts are of particular interest to the fuel buyers surveyed for the report. Thirty-​eight percent of these consumers said they were more likely to use gas brand loyalty programs that offered cash discounts. Interestingly, female consumers were more likely to be swayed by these cash discounts than males. Even among non-​users of gasoline brand loyalty programs there is interest in participating, however they want a little more incentive to join. Notably, these potential customers want even greater discounts, according to the "Price, Deals, and Discounts: Consumer Expectations at the Pump"report.

In terms of discounts, the NPD report finds that two out of three fuel buyers reported switching brands due to price.  More than one-​third of all gas buyers said it would take a discount greater than 10 cents per gallon to get them to switch gas brands, while one in 10 said they would not switch for any type of discount. Discounts of 10 cents and less are swaying the bulk of this behavior in the marketplace.

Clearly fuel discounts are a game-​changer in today’s market,” says David Portalatin, NPD motor fuels industry analyst. “Whether or not fuel marketers implement a discount program, it is imperative that they create value for the consumer in some aspect of the purchase occasion — whether price, quality, rewards, or some other attribute of the purchase experience.”


According to the latest report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Americans are spending a larger portion of their household budgets on gas than they have in nearly three decades.

Gasoline consumption in the United States declined in 2011 to its lowest level since 2001, demonstrating a boost in gas efficiency. Yet the average American household spends 4% of its income, about $2,912, on gas.

[Source:  "Price, Deals, and Discounts: Consumer Expectations at the Pump."  The NPD Group.  4 Feb. 2013.  Web. 7 Feb. 2013.]