BPmerewards or Shell Go+?
Loyalty in petrol forecourts is back with a renewed focus with both BP and Shell launching new schemes this year. Both are very different, so which one is best?
The challenge both brands face - minimal margins on a product which is heavily taxed. Therefore from a consumer point of view the £60 - £80 odd pounds they have just spent filling their tank should equate into a reasonable budget for rewards. But the reality is the margins on fuel, whatever the cost per litre are minimal. Hence the proportion available to reward you for your loyalty are quite miniscule. Therefore managing consumer expectation and not over promising in this market is key.
BP's consumer proposition is "Come on in. Get little treats, more often".
BPmerewards is a points based programme, where you can collect a point per litre on regular fuel (2 points if selecting Ultimate fuel) plus 1 point for every £1 spent in store of on car wash options.
Having earned your points, you can redeem them for discounts off fuel, rewards from their programme catalogue or Amazon or M&S gift vouchers. When you redeem, you need to redeeem in multiples of 200 points - which then asks the question what are 200 points worth and how long will it take me to collect them?
Having looked for recent official stats of average forecourt fuel spend - I gave up and just looked at my own buying behaviour.
On average it costs me £70ish to fill my car, which I do a couple of times a month. So my average monthly spend on fuel (rounded up) is £150. It's regular fuel so that equates to 150 points per month. For good measure lets say I spend an additional £5 on non fuel related items on each visit, generating an additional 5 points. Meaning my average points earned per month is 160 points.
Based on the above over a year my points total is likely to be 1,920 (again let's be generous and round this up to 2,000). That's assuming of course that all of my spend is with BP.
So what shall I spend these points on?
Well, if you like gift vouchers, then every 6 months you could choose a £5 Amazon or an M&S gift card. Total forecourts (now no longer operating in the UK) launched and ran a similar and very successful scheme in the nineties where you could collect points and claim Boots or M&S gift vouchers in £5 denominations. It ran for a number of years and worked very successfully for them in terms of driving loyalty and engagement. It was simple, focussed and clear to the consumer.
For me, BP could have just replicated this element and then layered additional actvity and gamification over the top as and when needed to maintain engagement. However, instead they decided to let you redeem your points in forecourt against petrol or other goods.
Whilst variety is always good in a programme, based on my buying behaviour I'm getting a £1 discount every month which isn't very exciting or engaging. To be fair, I probably wouldn't use my points until they had had built up to say £5 before redeeming against fuel or snacks etc. But that's on the same points earn timeline of a gift voucher.
What I do like about the gift voucher section is that they haven't tried to flood it with dozen of choices. Amazon and M&S will be sufficient choices for the majority of their customers.
Given the wide spectrum of customers alone I think putting a catalogue of physical rewards into the programme was a brave move, especially as points requirements range from 1,300 to over 9,000 points to redeem. To be fair, you can link more than one card to an account and you are able to part pay with your points and cash for physical rewards making redemption easier / quicker if there is a particular reward you want.
So what's missing?
Well you can certainly earn and get a little treat (depending on your consumption) on a monthly, or near monthly basis. The part that's missing for me is that there is nothing that adds value to the pleasure of driving (this applies to Shell Go+ too).
What I mean by this is that there is the opportunity to make every leisure journey more rewarding. For example, 200 points could get you a 2 for 1 entry to a theme park or a kids eat free at a particular restaurant chain. With the right partners you could even create a range of lifestyle offers that can be redeemed with 100 points rather than 200 points. Driving faster redemption and deeper engagement. Not to mention emotional amplification as these are the kind of activities that then get shared on social media.
Seat Swap from Applegreen encapsulates this element by encouraging customers who fill up with fuel to use their points earned to swap their car seat for a seat at a theme park, cinema, beauty salon etc Making it less about points and more about enjoying memorable and relaxing experiences.
Shell's proposition is "Good things happen when you Go+ it"
The key difference with this scheme is that it isn't built around a points based mechanic. It is based on making every visit more rewarding from a primarily food and drink point of view.
Simply spend £10 on petrol or £2 from the shop and you can then get 10% off hot drinks, Deli2Go, Jamie Oliver Deli food by Shell, Shell lubricants or carwashes.
Now 10% might not sound much at first but that's 10% off coffee, breakfast or lunch in some people's mind set. Hence, this is far more likely to drive frequency and recency as points as it is adding value to an every day need, that can easily become a habit / or ritual.
Given that there is probably a large segment of customers who simply top up fuel rather than fill their tanks each time then it probably ensures that they get the greatest share of fuel wallet from your average consumer who makes Shell part of their ritual.
It's a programme that lives in the present, it rewards you each time you visit and you see the benefits visually each time when you pay. Clearly it is a programme that was honed much more on every day behaviour and how to make sure Shell stations are more of a "re-fuelling" destination in peoples minds.
Fuel is clearly a great and relevant reward to have in a programme of this nature and Shell have taken a novel way to include it via gamification. Basically, every ten visits, members will receive a money off fuel voucher that might be worth anywhere from £1 - £50. Providing members with a little "win" every so often.
So what's missing?
As with all loyalty programmes, they are no doubt researched fully with their audience and I'm sure that this structure of reward offering was validated for the majority of customers.
But for me this is a programme that was probably built more for their existing audience and acts tremendously well as a long term retention programme. That said, nothing really shouts at me in terms of a new customer acquisition piece.
So which one would I join?
I live pretty much in the middle of a BP and Shell service station and what primarily influences which one I go to is waiting time at the pumps!
It just so happens that the Shell station near me generally always has a pump I can pull up to straight away, where as the BP station near me pretty much has cars stacking up to the pumps all of the time. Which is a shame as the BP also has a Marks & Spencer, which is an added bonus, but then the Shell has a Waitrose....
"Decisions, decisions.... "
Well if we leave the potential queue's at the pump and the choice between M&S and Waitrose out of the equation then for me BPmerewards is more likely to engage customers who are happy to collect points in the same way as they collect supermarket points - they expect a level of reward but are not that highly engaged in the brand.
ShellGo+ on the other hand will have a greater appeal to those who have morning coffee or stopping off for lunch as part of their daily ritual. A petrol forecourt is not a destination as such, but it is a potential oasis on the way to work, home or to a day out and as such for me the Shell proposition has the edge on this. By adding a little bit of value to every trip, in an immediate and visible way, whilst still exciting the consumer with various promotional overlays.
Personally, as I mainly use my car for social and domestic use, BP is more relevant to me (if only for the gift vouchers). However, if I was commuting by car to work everyday then ShellGo+ would be the way to go.
As a loyalty marketer, however, I really like the mixture of immediacy and fun that ShellGo+ delivers. By tapping into daily rituals and rewarding them there and then it appeals to both customers who top up or fill up to the brim.
Where they both could improve is by adding in affordable leisure and lifestyle alternatives (like Applegreen) in order to make each trip more rewarding rather than just each visit.