A recent study by Louisville, Colo.-based Market Force Information has found that BJ’s Wholesale Club is one of consumers’ favorite places to fill their gas tanks. Westborough, Mass.-based BJ’s ranked first in the grocery store/big-box retailer category.
According to the study, although most drivers still purchase fuel at traditional gas stations, grocers and big-box brands continue to be common options, due to their low prices and convenience. Respondents noted that on a recent trip to fuel up, 71 percent went to a gas station, while 28 percent selected a grocer or big-box retailer. Further, while fuel prices are important, they’re not the only factor influencing a consumer’s decision on where to buy gas, payment options, fuel quality, and ease of entering and exiting being other major considerations.
While BJ’s was No. 1 in this year’s study, Costco held the top spot in 2015. For 2016, Costco came in second, Kroger was third and Sam’s Club dropped a slot to fourth. Market Force noted that competition is tight between the top two retailers, with only a two-percentage point difference on the Composite Loyalty Index.
When Market Force looked at the attributes that drive customer satisfaction, Costco was first in three of the five categories: fuel price, fuel quality and appearance. The Issaquah, Wash.-based retailer, lagged behind, however, on ease of entering and exiting, and availability of cleaning tools at the fueling area.
In common with last year, 10 percent of respondents reported using a gas/convenience store mobile app. App use has grown since 2015 among 45-54-year-olds and fallen among 25-34-year-olds. GasBuddy, which uses crowdsourcing to find the cheapest gas prices in an area, was the most popular app by a wide margin, cited by 59 percent, although one-third of those polled said they used the retailer’s branded app.
Price was the main driver for app usage. When asked which features they’ve used within a gas app, gas price comparison was tops, with 71 percent, followed by finding a gas station and reporting gas prices.
The annual study ranks gas stations in two separate categories: traditional gas stations and convenience stores, and grocery stores and big-box retailers with gas stations. It also looks into food, technology and loyalty trends at these establishments. For the responses, more than 10,000 consumers, representing a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions and reflecting a broad spectrum of income levels, were polled online in March 2016 across the United States.