GasBuddy's Mobile Coupon Strategy


It’s an app that’s been downloaded more than 60 million times – primarily to help users find the best prices at the pump. However, leading low-gas-price mobile app company GasBuddy has been busy with a new strategy that is fueling in-store engagement and sales with a strategic partnership designed to get consumers spending more at the convenience stores they use when filling up their tanks.

Motorists and passengers spend about $225 million every year on consumer products at gas station convenience stores. It’s a sizable figure for sure, but one that reflects the fact that about only one-third of people who stop for gas actually make additional purchases in the store. GasBuddy Chief Revenue Officer Greg Fox thinks that there are masses of untapped potential there.

“Gas stations see tremendous traffic, but only about 35% of people go from the pump into the store,” Fox told eMarketer in an interview in December last year. “Most of them just fuel up and leave.”

Part of the problem lies in the fact that targeting an on-the-go consumer base with special offers and deals is difficult when price-conscious consumers are reluctant to stay loyal to a single fuel brand or a single station.

When a driver needs to fuel up, he or she fuels up – but with gas prices fluctuating so rapidly, they do so at a station that’s offering the best price on that day, fully in the knowledge that they’ll no doubt be using a different pump later in the week.

This of course has created the space for an app like GasBuddy to be so successful. But it also illustrates just how fragmented this market is, and the difficulty retailers and proprietors have when it comes to targeting irregular customers with digital deals.

Targeting the Moment

GasBuddy, however, wants to change how the market does mobile targeting.

Last year, the company partnered with Koupon Media – a platform that enables retailers and brands to manage and distribute offers via mobile – in order to target gas customers with further in-store deals precisely at the moment when they’re fueling up.

“We partnered with Koupon Media, which works with national CPG [consumer packaged goods] brands to take offers and distribute them through the GasBuddy app,” Fox said. “We want gas convenience partners and consumers to think of GasBuddy as this massive Sunday circular for the convenience store space. Together we want to grow the 35% that walk into stores to 50%.”

Koupon Media works with approximately 43,000 retailers across the US, and also has a large number of deals with CPG brands, including Pabst Blue Ribbon, Mondelez, Mountain Dew, and Coca-Cola.

According to GasBuddy, people dwell at a gas pump for an average of five-and-a-half minutes, during which time they are wont to pull out their phones – an optimal moment to ping them with a message enticing them to come into the store. This, says Fox, is precisely why the Koupon Media partnership has the potential to be a winning combination.

“Think about it – people in grocery stores are pushing a cart, they’ve got their kids grabbing things off shelves, they’ve got a list and they just want to get in and get out,” Fox says in Ad Exchanger. “But we know people are opening up their phones when they’re filling up on gas because we get tens of millions of submissions a month. That makes it the ideal time to reach them.”

Unlocking Consumer Insights

The deals that GasBuddy users are presented with are geo-targeted and customized to the shopper based on historical preferences, as well as other contextual factors such as weather, region and time of day.

Every time an offer is redeemed, Koupon Media creates a unique identifier for the user, to which data is then added continuously going forward. The information gathered is then shared back with the participating brands and retailers so that they can then refine and better personalize future offers.

As Fox explains:

“Every offer is geo-targeted based on users’ locations. After a user clicks on an offer, a timer is activated and consumers have to redeem the offer within 10 minutes. There’s a bar code, which the store scans to redeem the discount. As we go down this path, we report to the brand that a user completed a transaction at a specific store location. Koupon Media handles the rest, reporting back when an offer is redeemed to [close the conversion loop.]”

A Win-Win-Win Scenario for Users, Stores and Brands

GasBuddy has indeed created a solution that will unlock whole swathes of consumer insights for gas station convenience stores in a way that simply hasn’t been seen before.

From a marketing perspective, these companies, Fox says, will be able to use this data to start to answer some of the biggest questions they’ve routinely struggled with in the past.

“How many people come to my location? How many come into the store? Why did they come to me vs. my competitor? If my price of gas was cheaper than the price at five other gas stations around me but I didn’t run a coupon, did I still see more traffic? If I ran a coupon but kept my price higher, did I see more traffic then? Companies can start pulling these marketing levers. Eventually, as behavioral data across different locations is matched to consumers’ user IDs, companies will be able to deliver more targeted promotions as well.”

GasBuddy has a thriving community of users, and receives in the region of 50 million fuel price submissions each month. With such high social engagement among like-minded, cost-conscious shoppers, offering further savings opportunities is a completely natural fit for the company. Primarily, it’s an initiative that improves the GasBuddy app user experience. As consumers are looking for on-the-go cost savings, providing them at the precise moment when they pull out their phones to share fuel price information is sure to increase retention rates for GasBuddy, and drive those additional convenience store sales to boot. Indeed, it’s a win-win-win situation for users, stores and brands.

The last word goes to Greg Fox.

“We’re looking to create a scenario where everyone wins. Users benefit because they’re getting a great deal on an item in the store, the stores benefit because they’re driving more people and selling additional products, and the CPG brands benefit because now they have a way to reach convenience store customers – almost like a digital version of the Sunday circular from Kroger.”


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