Perhaps in direct contrast to a growing movement in the industry towards delighting customers, it’s time for fuel retailers to wake up and STOP wasting money on simply delighting their customers. Fuel retailers are constantly looking for that “next thing” to help them stand out from the competition, but too commonly are focusing on attributes that only delight their customers and not the things that differentiate them from the competition.
In a survey of c-store customers, Boston Consulting Group (source: BCG 2013 convenience store survey; BCG analysis), compared customers’ stated importance of various customer satisfaction attributes against customers’ derived importance from their actual buying behavior. By contrasting these two responses, BCG was able to separate customer experience attributes into two basic categories: delighters and differentiators.
Delighters are the attributes customers claim are important to them in survey responses, but provide little impact to their actual buying behavior. Conversely, differentiators are the attributes that align both with what customers say are important to them and influence their purchasing. To highlight, BCG asked consumers about more than 30 attributes that affect their purchasing decisions and about their satisfaction regarding more than 35 top c-store brands. Then used customer wallet share as a proxy for overall performance, they found that c-store brands that outperform on differentiating attributes also capture a higher share of wallet.
BCG research indicates that those with the highest score on differentiators capture 33% percent share of wallet, whereas the share of those with the lowest capture only 18% by comparison. They are attributes that consumers directly indicate are important and that measurably affect how those consumers think about the brand. For example, consumers' top attribute is cleanliness and it’s a differentiating attribute that drives consumer satisfaction and subsequently retailers’ ROI. The top 5 Differentiators are:
- Speed and ease
- Fuel price
Differentiating attributes were found to be highly valued but perceived by consumers as relatively rare—the basis of distinction for c-stores that may translate into better performance and a higher share of wallet. Even though it may seem surprising that some of these attributes have not yet become standard staples in the industry. Evidence suggests that these attributes will continue to be determinant in the foreseeable future. Many c-store brands are still not consistently meeting the basic consumer demands for the convenience format. It is critical to remember that consumers require brands to deliver those essentials before they give loyalty to c-stores that invest in differentiator attributes. Delighters' top 3 attributes are:
- Quality Fresh Food and Coffee
- Low Prices
- Loyalty Programs
In contrast, top delighters are welcomed but not expected by consumers; delighter attributes are a potential future basis of distinction for retailers. For example, some c-stores are stocking good-quality, fresh food—pleasantly surprising many consumers and enabling some retailers to lay the foundations for future competitive advantage.
Consumers do not yet consider delighter attributes to be the primary reasons for choosing one brand over another. Ultimately buyer transaction data tells us these dollars would be better spent on differentiators identified above to more directly influence consumer purchasing behavior. Top c-store brands are capturing all customer share by focusing on differentiators that drive consumer behavior.
The key to future success in convenience retail hinges on the ability to determine which attributes are or will be sources of differentiation and which only delight customers. Those that build their strategies around the differentiators will secure top leadership, capturing up to twice the share of wallet as those that do not.
Convenience brands should always be developing new areas of differentiation to stay ahead of consumer needs and secure their future basis for competitive advantage. At CAF Environmental Solutions we are poised as a leader in cleaning solutions to provide a key component differentiator in keeping your stores clean. CAF Products are effective, easy to use and save money. As your cleaning expert, we will help you to improve your store’s appearance and, in turn, increase your bottom line!