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    Rewarding Adventure Seekers

    Just as Maverik Inc. is giving its stores and strategic plan a refresh, the convenience store chain is also in the midst of revamping its Adventure Club Card loyalty program to make it more valuable for existing members and more attractive to non-members.

    By Linda Lisanti

    Just as Maverik Inc. is giving its stores and strategic plan a refresh, the convenience store chain is also in the midst of revamping its Adventure Club Card loyalty program to make it more valuable for existing members and more attractive to non-members.

    The current program, now in its fifth year, rewards cardholders in three ways. One is with instant discounts at the pump ranging from two to four cents per gallon. Members also receive quarterly rewards based on the total fuel gallons purchased; a member who buys 275 gallons in a quarter, for example, receives a $5 Maverik gift card. Lastly, Adventure Club participants are offered exclusive, in-store discounts on one product per month.

    Marketing manager Scott Shakespeare said the program has been successful -- attracting more than half a million members to date -- but is due for an update. Plans are to maintain the instant fuel rewards, which he said are widely popular with customers, yet do away with the quarterly rewards in favor of an ongoing accrual system that will more effectively reward those who purchase their fuel and merchandise at Maverik stores.

    "A loyalty program, at its core, is not a discount program," Shakespeare noted. "You really want to modify customer's behavior and reward those who behave the way you want -- those who are coming in often and spending their money with you."

    With a switch this spring to a new back-office system that will include a robust loyalty engine, Maverik also hopes to increase the number of exclusive in-store specials it can offer cardholders, as well as open up the possibility of partnering with local, non-competing businesses where its members can receive special deals. The loyalty technology that the retailer uses now only permits one loyalty item a month.

    In addition, the chain is looking into allowing customers to visit the company's newly-designed Web site, which is set to launch soon, and link their club card to their debit account so they can use the loyalty card as a payment method. As an incentive, customers who use the loyalty debit at the pump would receive double the instant fuel discount.

    Maverik intends to start rolling out modifications to the program within the first half of this year, and is not only expecting these changes to result in an increase in membership and frequency of card usage, but also the opportunity to do more niche marketing.

    "The new program will help us track cardholders' purchases better. We'll be able to start looking at our customer base as groups, see what they’re purchasing, when they’re purchasing, and then market to them individually," Shakespeare explained.

    "There are two ways to approach marketing -- gut instinct or data driven. Right now, in our marketing efforts, we tend to lean more toward the gut. With this new system, we'll be able to move toward the middle of the two. We'll have data to back our instincts."

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