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    A Year of New Initiatives for CITGO Petroleum

    Its new loyalty program is just one way the company is aiming to boost visits.

    By Tammy Mastroberte, Convenience Store News

    HOUSTON -- For CITGO Petroleum Corp., 2012 has been a year of new programs, promotions and offers aimed at helping the brand's marketers and retailers increase customer visits, along with in-store purchases and fuel sales.

    In the beginning of the year, the company laid out plans to introduce marketers to its new offerings through a series of roundtables, allowing them to provide input and ask questions. In fact, many of the new programs and changes to existing ones came about through feedback from its marketers, according to Alan Flagg, general manager of lights oils marketing at Houston-based CITGO.

    "We conducted 18 Marketer Roundtable meetings in early 2012 for marketers to hear directly from the CITGO team about new programs and plans that will ultimately help them and their retailers," Flagg told CSNews Online.

    Some of these new initiatives have included an enhanced mystery shopper program that introduced new rewards for compliance, and a new microsite -- myCITGOStore.com -- that gives retailers access to information on the mystery shopper program. Retailers who registered at the site were entered into a monthly drawing for a tablet and the grand-prize drawing for a $2,500 Visa gift card.

    Additionally, CITGO continues to roll out its new Centennial Image, with more locations sporting the new, updated look. "So far, 48 percent of CITGO retail locations have or are in the process of upgrading to the bold, updated look," Flagg noted. "Many are reporting robust increases in volume and sales."

    NEW PROGRAMS
    CITGO launched a customizable loyalty program called Loyalty Bucks, partnering with Centego, Outsite Loyalty Networks and FIS Loyalty, in February of this year. The brand's marketers and retailers can now participate in an approved, out-of-the-box program, or build one customized specifically to their needs.

    "CITGO contributes up to $2,000 per location toward the technology and service costs associated with implementing the CITGO Loyalty Bucks program," Flagg explained. "The program definitely increases repeat traffic for our local marketers and retailers, and they, along with our customers, have told us how pleased they are with the promotion."

    Currently, 5 percent of CITGO locations are participating in the loyalty solution, and in May, the company expanded the solution even further by partnering with The Pinnacle Corp. to add its Loyalink program to the offering.

    This summer, CITGO ran a Good Rewards promotion where customers could earn $15 CITGO gift cards by making eight minimum purchases of $20 or more using a Visa card enrolled in the Loyalty Bucks program. From June 1 through Sept. 20, customers were allowed to register up to three Visa cards at the website, www.CITGOGoodRewards.com, and consumers also provided their mobile phone numbers to receive text message updates.

    "While it is too early to speak to the complete results of the promotion, the data shows consumers who enrolled in the program increased their spending by 67 percent at CITGO locations, while spending at other locations decreased," Flagg reported, noting that the promotion exceeded the benchmarks the company set in the beginning of the program.

    Further building on the loyalty theme, in September, the CITGO Rewards credit card in partnership with Citi Retail Services entered the market, allowing customers to earn five-cents-per-gallon credits on gas purchases using the card. Rewards appear as rebates on the credit card statement, according to Flagg.

    "We realize in this marketplace, consumers have come to expect incentives for their patronage, and so we created a program that offers them some of the best rewards in the industry," he said.

    For more on CITGO's new initiatives, watch for the November issue of Convenience Store News.

    By Tammy Mastroberte, Convenience Store News
    • About Tammy Mastroberte Contributing Editor Tammy Mastroberte is an award-winning writer, with more than 16 years of experience in the magazine publishing industry. She writes on a variety of subjects, including retail technology. Mastroberte previously served as executive editor of EnsembleIQ’s Convenience Store News.

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