Three steps to choosing a gas station. Advantages and the practical application of customer segmentation to increase sales

The preferences of the buyer, his habits and eccentricities are of particular interest to advanced advertisers and marketers. 4Service Group experts investigated what tools are needed to find out how and why the client makes a decision.

Who do motorists trust?

Through an anonymous online survey (CAWI) of motorists living in different cities of Ukraine, 4Service Group experts investigated how they choose gas stations. The consumer preferences of 1,024 respondents were studied.

Information pertaining to age, gender and income have long since been insufficient indicators for sales growth. Segmenting and personalizing the audience provides enhanced knowledge and takes into account lifestyle, habits, culture and how customers now solve their problems.

The way of customer communication with the gas station consists of three steps:

  • choosing a product;
  • contact with the service;
  • continued communication after the service.

The first step determines who your clients are and why they choose your company. The survey allows you to find out which cars they drive, whether they travel on highways or in the city, how many kilometers they drive on average/per day, whether they are from a high- or low-income background, Gas station selection factors were divided into three categories:

  • rational — measured in numbers (the price of gasoline, coffee, time in the queue, mileage per 1 hryvnia, etc.)
  • emotional- informational influence (advertising, recommendations)
  • internal or deep — values of the person (for example, cleanliness of the location, speed of service, country of origin of fuel, etc.).

The second step includes the factors that are determined by the level of customer service received at the outlets:

  • the staff who meets the client (his competence, mood, desire to help, appearance)
  • business processes (speed of service, coffee making, ability to pay with a credit card or without leaving the car, etc.).

The third step is the continuation of communication with the customer on the company’s initiative. The client is offered answers to questions about the level of service, informing the company of the date of their birth, offer bonuses, discounts, and participation in promotions. These can be both useful and harmful reasons for communication. Great competition in the field of gas stations creates a wide information field that the customer needs to navigate.

Attitude to advertising and user reviews

Most often, users receive messages via Viber or SMS (55%). Users consider the following information as most attractive/informative:

  • loyalty program offers;
  • birthday or holiday wishes;
  • offering additional services;
  • offering additional services;
  • advertising of mobile applications, pay-per-use services;
  • social media advertising.

Within a month, our experts received 14,000 messages from users. The residents of Kyiv were the most involved in the discussion around the topic of gas stations. Every fourth publication from motorists came from the capital. Most references (47%) about gas stations were found in posts, while every fourth (26%) came from comments. The most popular network was Facebook, which was the host of 61% of references. Most of them were neutral in all gas stations.

Who are the gas station’s primary customers?

The sampling was made among men and women aged between 18 and 56 years old and 56 and above, with or without children, across different income levels and included those who made their own decisions about where to refuel and those who consult with their partner.

The data included all types of engines (diesel, petrol, gas) as well as cheaper car brands such as Daewoo, ZAZ, Moskvich, VAZ combined in one general category.

The largest number of respondents (56%) drive between 100 and 500 km per week. All respondents indicated that they visited gas stations at least once per week, with the majority of motorists having visited all types of gas stations at least once but have their favorite brand. How and why do motorists make their choice?

Reasons for choosing a gas station

When considering which gas station to stop at, motorists first take into account the quality of fuel available. However, the value of this indicator has decreased in recent years and it now appears that the fuel producer does not play a primary role when drivers choose a gas station. Respondents were asked how much they agreed with a particular statement.

The first three places were taken by statements of trust. Customers choose a particular gas station not according to the level of price or quality of service, but because they trust the brand. Here, price is less important. It is worth considering that people plan where to refuel, this is a conscious choice.

How do consumers determine the quality of gasoline?

84% – rated by engine performance

63% – fuel consumption per kilometer;

10% – just convinced

7% — read on the Internet and rely on reviews

Some 92% of car owners believe that the quality of fuel differs from gas station to gas station. Around 46% of car owners believe that the quality of fuel depends on the network of gas stations and 40% are sure that the quality of fuel depends on the manufacturer. The highest quality fuel is considered to be Lithuanian, while the second highest quality fuel comes from Belarus. Ukrainian fuel was rated third in terms of consumer evaluation, while Russian fuel came fourth.


Motorists aged 18-25 rarely plan where to refuel. For them, spontaneous choice is more typical. They are less likely to refuel at the gas stations where they know the quality of the fuel (81%) compared with older age groups (93%). It was found that young people were more likely to choose gas stations that had in-store restaurants than other age ranges. The least likely participants to choose gas stations on the variety of food available were those over 56.

As a result of this multidimensional analysis, we have identified several important behavioral patterns:

  1. Trust. The gas station needs to be credible.
  2. Commitment and own biases. People choose to visit a particular gas station because they like it and they do not experiment.
  3. Rationalism. There are customers for whom price is important.
  4. Serviceability. There are customers who appreciate additional service such as food, clean toilets, etc.

Gas station owners should focus on these four factors. It is important to understand their target market and identify its strengths and weaknesses, taking into account the above data when attracting a client.


Motorists who travel more than 500km a week consider gas stations as an opportunity to eat.

Those who drive very little (up to 50 km per week) are more likely to choose a gas station based on the price of gasoline (62%). This is probably due to the lack of desire to understand further nuances, so they make the simplest decision.

Gas station customers were divided into 4 segments:

  • Service-oriented (23%) — those who care about the design of the location, the food and drink on offer, polite staff, etc. Most often, these customers are women; however, it does not mean the above are not also important to men. The customers of better-designed gas stations, with polite staff and a wide variety of food and drink are often women aged between 25 and 46 years old that refuel once a week and buys food/soft drinks/hot dogs while refueling.
  • Time conscious customers (17%) – these are primarily young people aged 18-25 years old, who refuel often without planning where to stop but preferring gas stations without any queues.
  • Brand-oriented (29%) — the so-called brand loyalists. Mostly men between 40 and 50 years old who are loyal to one gas station in particular. They choose the gas station based on the quality of fuel offered.
  • Rationalists (32%) — they mainly refuel at gas stations located in cities and do not buy anything else when stopping. They monitor fuel prices and often frequent cheaper stations, planning in advance where to stop.

How do the choices of men and women differ?

Men are more likely than women to plan which gas station to visit in advance (74% vs. 62%). Women are 1.5 times more spontaneous and often prefer to pay with bank cards. The statement “I will refuel where it is cheaper” is also more used by men.

The service priorities of customers

The second place in the customer’s choice of gas stations is occupied by service. Arrangement of the location, the range of related products, food (although more relevant for gas stations located on the highway).

However, the service priorities of men and women differ. For men, it is more important to have separate bathrooms at gas stations located both on the road and in the city and that there are no queues near ticket offices.

It is more important for women to have WiFi at both city gas stations and those located on the highway than it is for men. The availability of facilities for children is equally important to both genders.

What else is important? The range of products and food

Consumers have become more likely to buy food at gas stations and would like to see the following items on the menu:

Nevertheless, most customers are not prepared to wait more than 15 minutes for a meal at a gas station unless it is a hot dog.

Related products

The less people drive, the less they buy. Around 47% of people that indicated they drive “Up to 50 km per week” do not buy anything at gas stations aside from fuel. If they do make a purchase, it is most often soft drinks (34%). Most purchases are made by those who drive 500-700 km a week or more.

Expectations of staff

When asked what they would like to change in relation to gas station staff, the top three answers from respondents were as follows:

  • speed of service by cashiers and tankers
  • courtesy of staff
  • less pushy staff

Additional service

Not all additional services are in high demand. Only 36% of respondents do not mind when gas station employees offer to wipe their car windscreens. However, 22% of participants believe that gas stations should not impose additional services on customers that have not been requested.

The most popular additional services at gas stations are ty pumping, windscreen washing, the ability to pay without leaving the car, technical assistance, charging for an electric car, car wash and filling the washer with a tanker.

But how do the people of Western Europe choose the gas station?

A similar analysis was made of people visiting gas stations in Western Europe, particularly those located in Austria and Switzerland. Male respondents aged between 30 and 45 years old and living in large European cities were the most likely to actively conduct their own quality assessment of gas stations.

Cost advantages. This factor is important for the driver, but it is not their highest priority.

Convenient location. Convenient location and wide coverage of stations across the country. This was the main factor for car owners.

Possibility to choose the type of service. This can be a full service from the gas station or self-service using automated systems.

Fast service. This factor is especially relevant in large cities, where the pace of life is much faster.

Cleanliness of the station. This is important both at the station and in stores and toilets. Failure to meet high standards of cleanliness negates other positive aspects of good service.

In European countries such as Austria and Switzerland, the dependence of NPS (Net Promotional Score) and subjective evaluation of service criteria on the type of service at the gas station is as follows:

  1. completed gas stations (with people and full service) – the highest indicator;
  2. understaffed (self-service) — lower NPS.

In Austria and Switzerland, customers prefer a more personal approach and the ability to seek help if necessary, rather than self-service. The customer is also willing to pay a higher price for a more complete and high-quality service.

Information about customer preferences allows the company to focus on providing those services and products and in the format that the consumer needs/wants. If you are aware of your customer’s wishes/needs, you can better attract customers that are more loyal and improve your financial performance.

Segmentation by preference involves the effective improvement of products and services for consumer groups and the creation of individual offers.

Targeted impact on customer categories increases the average check and involves more and more companies in the trend of advertising direction of transforming the service-design of brands.

The 4Service Group team has numerous research tools for the segmentation of audiences, which allows us to provide targeted services for the study of consumer preferences.


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