South Africa’s service stations drive brand loyalty through reward schemes but an increasingly important role is played by the branded grocery retailer that also occupies their premises.

There are more than 4,000 service stations across the country, according to research by commercial property firm Lightstone, the biggest brands being Engen (998 outlets) Caltex (683), Shell (637), BP (548) and Total (537.)

Linda Reid, head of commercial property at Lightstone, noted that these locations now offer additional services to simply selling fuel, as they partner with fast food outlets, convenience stores and coffee brands.

“This trend is nothing new and is fuelled by the South African consumers’ continued need for on-the-go convenience,” she told BizCommunity.

Around a quarter of drivers choose which service station to stop at on the basis of the loyalty scheme, she reported. “This is a substantial driver of choice that is being leveraged by the major fuel station brands.”

But the third parties at the location are also a factor, in particular branded grocery retailers, which she explained can be instrumental in consumer conversion from one service station brand to another (‘conversion’ being defined as the proportion of consumers accessible to a particular service station to those who choose to turn in to that service station as measured by vehicle telemetry devices).

When Lightstone looked at the conversion rates for two big players, BP and Engen, it found that stations hosting particular brands of convenience store performed almost twice as well as those without.

Thus BP stations with a Pick n Pay convenience store had a conversion rate of 8.1% compared with 4.9% in those without such a store.

And Engen stations with a Woolworths had a 9% conversion rate in comparison to 5.3% for those without.

“As we continue to connect more customers and build on our vehicle base of over 1.1 million vehicles, the data we collect is proving how valuable connected behavioural data is in providing insight into consumers’ interaction with brand ecosystems,” said Michael Du Preez, product and marketing executive at vehicle tracking firm Tracker.

“The next exciting opportunity is how these connections help brands build the personalised convenience and services consumers are looking for,” he added.

Sourced from BizCommunity; additional content by WARC staff