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Under the Hood of Shell’s $100 Million Loyalty Program

Shell Oil CMO Dan Little. Credit: Shell Oil.

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Did you know that Shell Oil is the only major fuel brand that still operates in all 50 states? The company boasts 14,000 sites across the country, in fact. But the proprietary gas stations of big box retailers and grocery stores have become formidable competitors in the last 20 years, and now account for about half of the market, increasing the pressure on Shell to drive loyalty.

“Forty-two percent of all U.S. drivers frequent or come to Shell,” says Dan Little, the company’s chief marketing officer. “But when it gets to loyalty, which is a measurement of frequency, we’re pretty much middle of the pack versus the other majors.” Little and his team hope to change this statistic with an innovative, many-pronged approach to building consumer loyalty.

The road to more rewards

The inspiration for Shell’s first loyalty program, called Fuel Rewards, came from a 2009 partnership with Kroger supermarkets. When Shell began allowing Kroger customers to spend their rewards at Shell stations, it soon became clear that both parties were profiting from the partnership. “A fuel discount, we found, was very emotive for consumers,” Little says. “The price of fuel can change behavior.” The goal of the next program? To scale this lucrative model nationally.

This year, Little’s team relaunched the program with a new name — Instant Gold Status — in response to a unified request from its customers for more rewards. In addition to accepting local partner points, Instant Gold Status gives members an automatic 5-cent per gallon discount with every purchase, countrywide.


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One Comment

  1. extankerdriver says:

    several years ago, shell made the mistake of disbanding their trucking fleet, and leasing the retail locations to wholesalers, who now control the rents, and the price of the fuel the dealers pay. the wholesalers purchase the fuel from shell, and resell it to the dealers, adding on a few cents profit, plus a charge to have a carrier deliver it to the station. this leaves the shell dealers unable to compete with the other area stations. in my local area, the shell station is charging 38 cents more per gallon for regular, self service cash, and up to 60 cents more for credit, while 3 other major brand stations are the same price (38 cents less) for cash or credit! 3 or 5 cents a gallon is not a big deal, but 38 cents has sent many long time loyal customers defecting to the competition.