The Concept of Food and Gas Stations
Some traditional gas stations are under threat. They may have to change their stock to move in line with the expectations of their customers. Whilst these businesses still remain the most popular choice when most drivers fill their tanks, researchers have found that stations that are attached to outlets selling fresh merchandise are becoming increasingly popular.
Market Force Information, a company specializing in Customer Experience Management, discovered that there are a number of factors which influence the choice consumers make when looking to buy their gas.
Unsurprisingly, price is by far the most important factor. Stations attached to large supermarkets and grocery stores can often lead the field when it comes to cheap fuel. Following this, fuel quality, ease of getting in and out of stations and payment options appear on the list of factors users consider as influential when they make their choice.
Near the bottom of the list are consumables unconnected to the gas that is bought. Drivers want a wide range of quality goods to be on sale, they want other services for their vehicles, such as air and car wash facilities. They want fresh food. They want good coffee.
And whilst these items still fall below other criteria listed in the study, they are growing in stature and are considered important for approaching one in ten of Americans today.
But it seems as though many gas station proprietors are adapting their businesses to respond to trends. The provision of fresh coffee, salads and a bigger range of fresh sandwiches is taking customers away from outlets such as some fast food restaurants. Now, one in four stops in a gas station involves filling the driver as well as the tank.
The concept of gas stations selling food dates back to the late 1950s but the idea took a long time to take off. In 1961, only 6.1% of convenience stores gave road users the chance to fill up their car at the same time. Today, around nine out of ten stations offer more to their customers. This figure was boosted in the early 1990s when the biggest supermarkets got in on the act by adding their own, on site, stations.
Technology is increasingly playing its role in the choices drivers make for the purchase of their fuel. Ten per cent of the population now use an app to determine where to stop and fill up. Three quarters of the time, apps are used to work out the cheapest gas available in the area.
The canopy covered stations play such a part in our culture, breaking up the long car journeys many still make, offering a chance for the kids to get their ration of sugar and giving the drivers the reassurance that, when the gauge drops a little lower than it should, around the corner will be the security of replenishment. And, as we have seen, not just for the car but for the driver as well.