With its scale, affordability and consumer convenience, AA Smartfuel works for retailers like no other loyalty programme.
AA Smartfuel users accumulate cents per litre off their fuel spending as they make routine purchases and swipe their AA Smartfuel or AA Membership card.
They can track how many cents per litre they’ve saved using the programme’s app, which more than 400,000 Kiwis have downloaded, and redeem their savings with fuel purchases at over 350 BP and Caltex stations nationwide.
AA Smartfuel has serious scale, says director Ian Sutcliffe.
The programme began from scratch seven years ago and has now grown to 2.3 million unique cardholders. “If you can get free fuel, there’s probably not too many Kiwi drivers who don’t want to be a part of that,” he says.
This group of shoppers is highly engaged, Sutcliffe says. Just over a million cardholders earn or redeem a fuel discount at least once every month at more than 1400 retail partners, and 1.3 million have opted in to receive email communications from AA Smartfuel.
They actively seek out discounts by shopping with AA Smartfuel partner retailers, and watch their discount balances creep up with every purchase.
A key point of difference against other loyalty programmes is that AA Smartfuel operates on cents saved per litre of fuel, not points.
Sutcliffe says this system is more transparent than a points system, and simpler for the consumer to stay engaged with.
The cents-per-litre discounts accumulate with the customer’s spending across different retailers and services, rather than being issued as one-off paper fuel dockets.
This is another aspect of AA Smartfuel’s emphasis on transparency. Customers can use the app to track how much of a discount they’ve earned in real-time, giving them a sense of control, as well as instant gratification.
With its tagline “ordinary spending, extraordinary savings”, AA Smartfuel enables shoppers to accumulate savings without disrupting their routines.
The savings on fuel then free up money for them to spend elsewhere, Sutcliffe says: “It’s meaningful rewards in quick order.” AA Smartfuel partners have already given away $95 million in fuel discounts during the last 12 months.
The programme is affordable for retailers, Sutcliffe says, as retailers only pay for the fuel discounts that their customers redeem.
AA Smartfuel doesn’t “clip the ticket” on unredeemed rewards, so retailers can afford to be more generous with the reward they offer their customers, leading to more customer engagement.
On average the programme costs the partners less than 1 percent of sales, yet delivers far more. As well as building customer loyalty, retailers gain insights and data about their customers, while protecting the personal privacy rights of such customers.
Sutcliffe says providing customer insights is a win-win for AA Smartfuel, retail partners as well as the customer. “We want partners to have more insights so that they can give relevant offers to their customers.”
AA Smartfuel has recently partnered with Countdown in an arrangement which sees Countdown’s Onecard and the AA Smartfuel card rolled into one.
The newest addition to its suite of partners is Contact Energy, which offers cardholders discounts on their power bill in addition to fuel discounts.
Sutcliffe says Contact is using the programme as both a retention tool, as well as acquisition: “Our proposition allows you to do both.” Contact Energy says:
“Partnering with AA Smartfuel and becoming another key player in their extensive network of partners, has given Contact direct access to a rewards programme that’s tangible and instant- which was something the majority of businesses and households told us they really valued.
“Since Contact launched its new range of AA Smartfuel plans in April we’ve seen this strategy of working with a new partnership really come to life quickly, as thousands of customers have already taken advantage of the everyday generous value fuel rewards we are offering.”
There’s plenty of growth left for the AA Smartfuel programme, which continues to add new cardholders at a rate of 25 - 30,000 per month. It has several new retail partners waiting in the wings, but is actively seeking more.
Director: Ian Sutcliffe
M.: 027 5668851