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Noco Friends & Family Club

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Noco Friends & Family Club
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Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, I have a tendency to root for the underdog.

In a fuel retailing business dominated by a select few brands, Noco boasts a 75 year history in Western New York , operating about 30 stores throughout the region.

A centerpiece of its on-site marketing is the Friends & Family Club, which offers “rewards” including free merchandise, surprise and delight specials, birthday and “members only” specials. Though the rewards carry minimal tangible value, they seem enough to draw consumer attention.

Behind the appearance of a typical rewards program is a clever construct of two distinct card products offering convenience to customers.

The Basic card allows customers to start the pump when paying cash without having to go inside the convenience store to pay first. Filling out a short application and supplying personal information is all that is required.

The second card, known as EZ Pay, is a payment device and links the customer’s checking account for payment, creating a low cost ACH transaction for payment at the pump.

On the surface, the program is innovative and I believe that consumers perceive good value and convenience from both cards. I’m a bit perplexed though as cash customers still have to make a trip inside the store with or without the Friends and Family Basic card. Walk in and pay first to start the pump, or swipe the Basic card and walk in after fueling to pay – your choice but the aerobic activity is the same either way.

If consumers fully understand the arrangement, they would probably be motivated to upgrade straight away to the EZ Pay card, however some people have fears about the data security and giving up linkage to their checking account. I also found it frustrating that only New York residents could enroll in the program, severely limiting interest in Noco from road warriors from neighboring states.

Tweaking aside, the program is well promoted in the forecourt as well as inside their smartly outfitted convenience stores. For Noco, Friends & Family offers convenience to the cash purchaser and encourages low cost transaction costs through use of ACH.

It’s almost enough to make me want to “turn left” to enter a Noco station!

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