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    Grocery, Wholesale Retailers Top List of Favorite Gas Stations

    Study: the majority of motorists still visit national gas station brands, but the gap is narrowing.

    BOULDER, Colo. -- Convenience stores and gas stations may go hand in hand, but a recent survey found that more motorists are pulling up to the pumps at grocery stores and wholesale retailers.

    A new consumer study by Market Force Information, which surveyed more than 4,500 participants in North America, found that while 56 percent of respondents visit national gas station brands, approximately 32 percent frequent mass retailers and grocery stores.

    Three brands came out of the survey as clear favorites, according to a Market Force release. Those brands were Shell, Costco and Kroger. When taking the number of locations into account and indexed, Costco emerged as No. 1, followed by Kroger (No. 2) and Sam's Club (No. 3).

    The survey also revealed that motorists said convenience and price are the main drivers behind their choice of fill-up spots. Cleanliness is also a key factor, with four out of 10 respondents pointing to it, followed by ease of entry, brand reputation, fuel quality and customer service.

    According to Market Force, 45 percent of those participating in the survey said they would drive past a competitor's location to get gas at their favorite station; however, that number dropped to 17 percent when price came into the picture.

    "The battle for customer loyalty in the petro-convenience industry is fierce, and quickly becoming more complex as companies like Costco and Kroger take away more business from the mainstay brands," said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. "Because it's so difficult to differentiate on fuel prices, we're seeing retailers roll out more aggressive loyalty programs to retain their profitable customers and attract new ones."

    The study also revealed that approximately 36 percent of customers have a

    loyalty card

    for a gas or convenience retailer, which rewards consumers for frequent purchases. Grocers dominated the loyalty card category, with Kroger, Safeway and Sam's Club the most popular choices among those surveyed.


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