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Citgo Good Rewards

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Citgo Good Rewards
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Citgo Good Rewards is a seasonal promotion designed to encourage drivers to shift some of their “share of tank” to Citgo during the summer season. The press release explains the promotion runs between June – September 2012 and is co-sponsored with Visa, which is showcasing its real-time messaging platform to communicate status in the promotion to consumers at the pump.

Good Rewards is a registered card program, meaning consumers wishing to take advantage of the promo must register an eligible Visa card as part of the enrollment process. Consumers purchasing $20 or more fuel on 8 separate occasions with one of the registered Visa cards are awarded a $15 Citgo gift card, equating to a rebate just over 9% on fuel purchases. Citgo protects itself from the loyalty “wise-guys” by limiting eligible purchases to one per day. This keeps the wise-guys from filling up a big 40 gallon tank in 2 separate purchases and racing to the reward more quickly. It also prevents fleet operators from taking advantage of the offer on a commercial basis.

Citgo Good Rewards is well inspired for the summer season and might help a brand that is still striving to shirk it’s Venezuelan ownership roots. a fact that sparked some political controversy in the past year or so.

As good as it is, there are a few Loyalty Asterisks lurking in the background that should be noted by marketers:

  1. Reasonably innocent is that consumers will receive “up to 8” text messages per week during the time of the promotion. I’m wondering if all of these will be pertinent to the promotion itself or if they will include external promotions from third parties. Eight messages per week isn’t exactly a waterfall, but they could become tedious depending on content and value. From my reading of the fine print, it’s not entirely clear if opting out of the messages disqualifies a person from the benefits of the promotion, but it seems to work that way.
  2. More concerning is the time needed for fulfillment of the Citgo Gift Card. The website states that cards will be mailed “6-8 weeks” following request. In this digital / mobile age, that is just too darn long. By the time the card arrives, most consumers will find the reward of lesser value and may overlook reasons to stop by their neighborhood Citgo station for visits #9, 10 and 11.
  3. Worst of all, the fine print reveals that the Citgo Gift Card is “good for future purchases at participating CITGO retail locations”.  While consumers love free gas, I believe the overall value of the offer would be higher with the reward of a Visa Gift Card that could be used for purchases at any retailer.

Reading the offer’s fine print might seem to be the domain of legal types and loyalty geeks (me), but there is some fascinating detail revealed in this case. The “8 SMS messages per week” is further defined as “4 triggered and 4 non-triggered”. The language used is marketing speak that consumers will only partially understand, and offers this detail about triggers:

  1. Where the customer uses the enrolled Visa card to make a purchase, whether a physical or online store
  2. The type of merchant where the purchase is made (grocery, retail, other fuel seller)
  3. Purchases with Citgo and its affiliated brands
  4. Transaction time of day, count & amount
  5. Profile information from the enrollment form

The structure of the triggered promotions reveals a bit about the inner workings of the Visa real-time messaging system, though the logic shared is similar to many other data driven marketing programs.

Citgo Good Rewards is a great idea to shift share during the summer season and to build positive recognition for the Citgo brand. We’ll see how it stacks up to competing offers such as BP’s Pump Rewards that offers cents off the gallon on a real time basis.


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