If you’re getting gas in North America, chances are you’d prefer to fill ‘er up at Costco. For the second year in a row, Costco has topped a recent survey about consumer gas station preferences conducted by Market Force Information. The survey was designed to find out where shoppers stop most to get gas and what types of things they prefer in their gas stations. The survey was done in April 2013 and involved 7,633 consumers across the US and Canada. The survey respondents were split fairly evenly amongst women and men and represented a cross section of income levels and ages. Market Force calculated the rankings based on total votes, and then factored in the number of locations for each chain for a weighted view of the results. Of the 53 chains studied, Shell amassed the highest number of votes, which can be attributed to the fact that it has more than 10,000 locations in North America. However, when viewed as a calculation of votes per location, Costco ranked first and Sam’s Club ranked second.
So what is it about Costco gas stations that are such a hit with consumers? People love a deal on gas, and that is where Costco leads the pack. But much like in real estate, it’s really all about location. If it is convenient, consumers are more likely to stop and fill up. Surprisingly, convenience even out-ranks price on how consumers choose a gas station. Overall, there are five top attributes for gas stations: convenient location, fuel price, ease of entry and exit, feeling of safety and cleanliness. However, Costco doesn’t excel in convenient locations, they’re not even in the top five. According to the survey results , Costco’s strong point is fuel price (they rank first) and feeling of safety, cleanliness, and environmentally conscious fuel (they rank second). QuikTrip ranked first in eight areas (ease of entry and exit, feeling of safety, cleanliness, curb appeal, fuel quality, friendly fuel attendants, window cleaning materials, and environmentally conscious fuel), but were in the top five on four other attributes, as well. But overall, Costco gets many more top votes per location
While Costco was the favourite across the whole survey, the results were also broken down by region with Costco the favourite in the West, Speedway in the Midwest, Shell in the South and Sunoco in the Northeast. There are some other surprising findings that came out in the survey that shows a definite trend towards the Costco/Sam’s Club and grocery store gas stations. Less than half (49%) of consumers said that they go to a national gas station chain, and only 21% said they visit a local gas station when choosing where to purchase gas. Meanwhile, nearly one-third (30%) said they most frequently fuel up at either a grocery store or wholesale club. As compared to last year’s survey from Market Force, warehouse and grocery stores have gained 1%, and local gas stations have made a 5% gain, whereas national gas stations have taken a sharp downturn losing 7% of their share of the places where consumers fuel up most often.
For more information, read the whole survey and view all of the lovely graphs and charts: