Kroger, Costco top list of shoppers' favorite gas stations

Grocery stores rank as shoppers' favorite gas stations with Kroger (NYSE:KR), Costco (NASDAQ:COST) and Sam's Club topping the list.

The study by Market Force revealed that grocery and wholesale retailers are favored over traditional gas station chains, luring shoppers with competitive prices and loyalty-based discounts.

Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent gas station experience and their likelihood to return to that station. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score.

Kroger ranked No. 1 with 79 percent, Costco and QuikTrip tied for second with 78 percent, Sam's Club (NYSE:WMT) ranked third with 76 percent and Murphy USA, which operates standalone stations and on-site stations at Walmart Supercenters, was fourth with 68 percent.

Even so, consumers more often than not end up frequenting traditional gas stations because of convenience. Which makes Walmart's gas station/convenience store test that much more compelling.

Walmart to Go debuted in the retailer's home town of Bentonville, Arkansas and is the smallest retail concept in its growing portfolio of small stores. Walmart's focus going forward will be on small stores as the retailer dials back new supercenter openings, according to CEO Doug McMillon.  

Walmart to Go the gas station — not to be confused with the Walmart to Go grocery drive-through test in Denver — pairs convenience store offerings with fresh grocery and hot food. Walmart partnered with Bentonville Butcher & Deli, which serves fresh-sliced meats, and Krispy Kreme, which has a donut stand inside the store.

Unlike many gas station convenience store outlets, Walmart to Go sells items at the same price as those sold at its nearby supercenters and Neighborhood Markets and features many store brands. That pairing of low-prices and convenience should pay off in loyalty.

Market Force found that more than one-third of consumers are willing to drive past a competing brand to fuel at their favorite gas station. Study participants said they'd be most willing to drive past competitors to fuel up at Costco, Sam's Club, Kroger, QuikTrip and Speedway.

Although convenience is often the deciding factor for shoppers in this channel, low prices still trump all other factors. Just 18 percent would always choose their preferred gas station over other options, even if the price were higher.

For more:
-See this Market Force study

Related stories:
Walmart introduces new grocery drive-through concept
Walmart debuts first Walmart To Go convenience store 
Walmart to sell auto insurance
McMillon: Let go of the past as change comes to Walmart
Walmart: Small stores and convenience key to Walmart's future

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