Driving Traffic with Gas Promotions
By George Anderson
With the price for a gallon of gas continuing to go up (another 10 cents over the past two weeks, according to the latest reports), consumers are looking for ways to conserve the fuel they burn and spend less when they have to buy it.
Little wonder then that promotions offering discounts or giveaways of gas are proving so popular in driving traffic into stores.
As Jack DeLeo, president and chief executive of Hitchcock Fleming & Associates Inc. and chairman of the Northeast Ohio chapter of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, explained it to Cleveland’s Plain Dealer newspaper, “Everybody hates to buy gas. It’s something that you never have time to do . . . and the price keeps going up.”
Mr. DeLeo is familiar with the power of gasoline promotions to drive sales. His agency handle advertising for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. “We’ve been doing gas promotions for several years, saying ‘If you buy a set of tires, you get a $50 or $75 gas card,’ ” he said. “It’s been one of our No. 1 promotions.”
Rob Felber, president of Felber & Felber Marketing, said: “Gas is top of mind for many reasons. People are very aware of gas prices, more so than they are of prices for orange juice, bread or milk. If you drive down the street, every half-mile you see a different price.”
Perhaps it is because of consumers’ knowledge of gas prices that food stores have become prime beneficiaries of gasoline discounting and promotions.
Giant Eagle, for example, says its Fuelperks gas discount program had increased traffic to its stores since being launched last summer. Consumers who hold Giant Eagle’s Advantage cards earn a discount of 10 cents on gasoline purchased at gas stations located outside its stores as well as at its 19 GetGo convenience store locations (GetGo is co-owned by Guttman Oil Co.).
Rob Borella, director of corporate communications and sports marketing for grocery store chain, said, “The testimonials from customers have been absolutely tremendous.”
Mr. Felber offers one of those testimonials. “I always went to Giant Eagle, and I always use the Advantage card, but now I’m driving 20 more feet down the road and in a different direction just to use the GetGo.”
Competitors have been decidedly less complimentary about Giant Eagle’s program. Last spring, the Petroleum Retailers and Auto Repair Association of Pittsburgh charged that Giant Eagle’s discounts violate state law prohibiting retailers from selling goods at or below cost.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General did not see it the same way. Last month, the protest was dismissed with the Attorney General’s office recommending a repeal of the 1941 Act cited
by the Petroleum Dealers in filing their complaint.
Moderator’s Comment: Are consumers more aware of gas prices at stations outside supermarkets, warehouse clubs, supercenters, etc. than they are of the
everyday goods sold inside the stores? Should all retailers be running out to create gas discount/giveaway programs with so much of the public’s attention on energy prices?
Dan Pastor, vice president of fuels and convenience for Giant Eagle, said of his company’s program, “This is not a gasoline promotion, this is a supermarket
promotion,” and a way to reward loyal customers, said Dan Pastor, vice president of fuels and convenience. –
George Anderson – Moderator