by Deanna Ting | October 06, 2015
A July 2015 nationwide study of 1,016 U.S. consumers found that consumers prefer rewards programs that enable them to save on the cost of gasoline/fuel more than other incentives. The study, conducted by Ipsos eNation for Excentus, a provider of loyalty and marketing program software, also found that more than two-thirds of respondents indicated a willingness to switch brands, change retailers, or buy in-store instead of online in order to save anywhere from 10 cents to $1 per gallon of gasoline.

Key findings include:

Fuel savings are the No. 1 preferred incentive for rewards. In the survey, 37 percent of respondents chose fuel savings rewards as their preferred incentive, followed by cash back on credit card (32 percent); retailer/brand coupons (25 percent); and credit card rewards (24 percent). 

More than half of Americans (54 percent) belong to a program that enables them to earn incentives they can redeem on the cost of fuel.

Activity levels are high with fuel-savings rewards programs. When respondents were asked to rate programs in which they are most actively earning rewards, fuel savings ranked at No. 1 (29 percent), higher than credit card cash-back programs (24 percent) and credit card rewards (17 percent); and instant discounts at the cash register (17 percent).

Of the consumers surveyed, 46 percent say they earn, buy, redeem, or check rewards daily or weekly.

Grocery stores (68 percent), retail stores (22 percent), and credit cards (16 percent) are the top three merchants from whom consumers earn fuel-savings rewards as part of their daily shopping routines.

The top reasons why consumers join fuel-savings programs are as follows: the fuel incentive is offered as part of an existing loyalty program (46 percent); to save money (40 percent); because they can earn rewards where they already shop (37 percent); to save on the costs of driving (19 percent); because the incentive is linked to a credit card (15 percent).

Fuel savings influence Millennials' mobile behaviors. Those ages 18-34 are more than twice as likely as other age groups to prefer to track their rewards from a mobile app.

Midwestern consumers (57 percent) are more likely than those in other U.S. regions to belong to a fuel-savings reward program compared to the West (56 percent), South (52 percent), and Northeast (50 percent). 

Fuel savings influence shopping behaviors and brand preferences. Nineteen percent of consumers would choose a different brand to earn 25 to 50 cents per gallon on fuel; 17 to 20 percent would switch retailers to earn 25 cents to $1 per-gallon on fuel; and 20 percent would purchase in store rather than online to earn 25 to 50 cents per gallon on fuel.

In conclusion, the study suggests that whether standalone or combined with other rewards programs, the ability to save money on gasoline/fuel is a popular, frequently used and sought-after incentive for consumers and those considering enhancing their existing loyalty programs, or launching new ones, should consider including some kind of gasoline savings or incentives such as gasoline gift cards.