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Lessons in Brand Loyalty, From Our Favorite Gas Stations

09.17.21Ann Marie Ames

In a world full of gas stations that all have the same basic offerings — gas, snacks, cold beverages and lottery tickets — why do some have such fierce brand loyalty from their customers?

At Filament, we have some loyalists who would rather run out of gas than stop at not-their-favorite gas station. There’s the “Kwik Trip is my spirit animal” crowd (see: Tanya Ciurro in her Kwik Trip swag above). And the Iowans who are firmly in camp Casey’s. And still further, the central plains QuikTrip (ahem, imposter) crowd.

What could possibly prompt such strong feelings about convenience stores? And how can you replicate that brand loyalty with your customers?

Building customer loyalty

Brand loyalty can be accomplished in many ways, but there are common themes we can draw out from these convenience store kings:

1. Local makes a difference: People will go out of their way to support local businesses, especially ones that give back to the community. These gas station brands are by no means mom and pop shops but have strong regionality — to the point where crossing state lines means entering a new world of convenience stores.

2. Convenience, convenience, convenience: If your brand makes life easier for your customers, you’re well on your way to building loyalty. Most of these gas stations are a one-stop shop. You can get your gas, the snack of your heart’s choosing, any beverage (iced, hot or alcohol infused), a grab-and-go meal for later, a gallon of milk and more. A single stop makes life easier, and that’s a selling point.

3. Know what matters: The audience at gas stations is diverse, and there’s something for everyone. For the parent with a minivan full of spilled Cheerios, the vacuum station. For the tired truck driver, the coffee station. For the “lunchtime was over hours ago” crowd, enter the food warmer, where a simple slice of pizza at 2 p.m. feeds the soul. It’s all about knowing your audience.

4. Be relatable: Now, we’re going to showcase a crowd favorite (sorry, Casey’s and QuikTrip lovers); Kwik Trip’s social media game is second to none. They make themselves relatable, and therefore, people are loyal. Their posts consist of humorous pokes at competitors, relatable gas station moments and funny Kwik Trip-isms. They even showcase their tribe of fierce loyalists: enter wedding and graduation photos taken in front of a Kwik Trip.

Activating your loyalists

Brand ambassadors help amplify your message by sharing their experiences on social media, encouraging their peers to become loyal purchasers and perhaps even writing a blog dedicated to your greatness. And, it’s something Kwik Trip does well.

Kwik Trip sells a plethora of dairy products (so should any other gas station worth noting), and it’s not uncommon to see a dairy farmer take over their Instagram account for a day. They’ll share their morning chores, stop at Kwik Trip for lunch (where they’ll conveniently grab a snack and some to-go meals for later), continue with farm life and pick back up by cooking the to-go meal later. And, that’s just one influencer example. They happen all the time!

The farmer is given an engaged audience, Kwik Trip gets quality content, and customers are influenced to stop and grab a product. It’s a win-win-win.

Shoot me an email to talk about building your brand’s loyalty and ambassadors — or to debate gas station superiority (it’s a passion).
Ann Marie Ames
Ann Marie Ames