Circle K fuels customer loyalty.

Gamification changes the loyalty game completely for Ireland’s largest fuels & convenience retailer.

Chilli Pepper developed Europe’s first Loyalty Programme to use an ongoing gaming mechanic for Circle K, Ireland’s largest fuels and convenience brand.  This innovative approach to loyalty has delivered exponentially for the business and has delighted hundreds of thousands of customers.

Circle K is Ireland’s largest fuels and convenience brand with a network of more than 420 sites.  It is also one of the largest home heat distributors in the country and offer Fuel Cards to a large portion of Ireland’s businesses.

It faced some tough market predictions in 2013, with the overall fuels market predicted to shrink, and as a result, a projected decline in its market share.  Despite the high footfall through its sites each week, Circle K had limited data on its customers, which meant it had no visibility as to who its customers were, what they were buying, and how often they did so.

It was vital that Circle K made the right strategic decision in order to maintain its No.1 position in the market and arrest the predicted decline in fuel sales.  As a result, it took the decision to focus its entire organisation on getting closer to its customers and building sustainable, long-term relationships with them.

Circle K appointed Chilli Pepper to develop a commercially sound Loyalty Strategy that could be rolled out across its complex business.

A comprehensive review was done, which included the entire Senior Executive Team, where complete buy-in was achieved.

We at Chilli Pepper then developed three bespoke Loyalty Programmes, to identify the type of loyalty solution that would best suit Circle K’s wide variety of customers.  We researched two more traditional loyalty programmes, and one that completely pushed the boundaries of loyalty, by using gamification.

After significant customer research, we gained complete clarity on the Customer Insight: Customers were bored with the standard c-store and fuel loyalty programmes and wanted to turn what was seen as a ‘grudge’ purchase, into a more fun and rewarding experience.

Chilli Pepper worked hand in glove with the Marketing, Commercial and Finance teams to ensure that the business case was robust and allowed the business to realise a ROI – even with the very small margin on fuel.  We then presented the Loyalty Strategy and Business Case to the Board of Directors to get buy-in and the go-ahead to launch Ireland’s first Loyalty Game.

As a result, Play or Park – The Loyalty Game, was launched into the market.  It was the first loyalty programme in Europe to use an ongoing gaming mechanic, to reward customers for high levels of proactive participation.

Play or Park gives members points for all shop and fuel purchases and allows them play their points each month, for the chance to win Experiences of a Lifetime and guaranteed free Circle K Treats.

To date, Play or Park members have won a significant amount of ‘Experiences of a Lifetime’, including cars, VIP trips across the globe and free fuel for life. Circle K has also given away hundreds of thousands of Free Treats to its most loyal members.

Circle K asked Chilli Pepper to stay on as its Strategic Loyalty Lead where we worked with the company through every step of the programme’s implementation, from assisting in appointing the technology and creative partners, to advising on customer data and programme metrics. This ensured that all parties stayed on strategy and delivered a programme that customers actively participated in.

Circle K’s unique approach to loyalty has broken the status quo and has delivered exceptionally across all of the objectives that were set, and in all cases the targets were exceeded. Circle K retains its No.1 position in the market, has increased Diesel & Unleaded volumes and has increased shop turnover.

Play or Park has also helped to increase their brand equity scores:

increase in NPS
brand Leadership KPI
customers have switched to Topaz as a result
customers now choose to only fill up at Topaz

By ensuring that the entire organisation supported the Loyalty Strategy and that every step of the customer journey was seamless, Circle K has achieved significant results from this innovative customer Loyalty Strategy – but most importantly, customers love it.

Play or Park remains a key strategic focus for Circle K and the entire organisation work tirelessly to deliver on this customer centric Loyalty Game which truly delights its customers – whilst still delivering commercial results for its business.

Circle K has been recognised locally and internationally for their innovation in loyalty including:

  • Best Fuel Retail Loyalty Programme in the Loyalty Performance Index
  • Winner Best CRM Strategy at the International Loyalty Awards
  • Winner Best Loyalty Programme of the Year- Gamification & Entertainment at the Global Loyalty Awards
  • Winner Best Oil Company Initiative at the Forecourt & Convenience Retailer Awards
  • Winner of 15 awards at the An Post Smart Marketing Awards as well as taking away the prestigious ‘Black Fox’ Grand Prix and winning Best Marketing Team of the Year
  • Winner Best Retail & Fashion award at the ADFX Awards

We appointed Chilli Pepper as our Strategic Loyalty Partner to assist us with the development of a Loyalty Strategy and Business Case to understand the viability of implementing a Loyalty Programme for our customers. Given the complexity and diversity of our business units, this was no mean feat and Chilli Pepper worked with us every step of the way to find a solution that would benefit every aspect of our business.

Not only did Chilli Pepper develop a programme that our customers love, and that is financially viable for our business - but it is leading the way in customer loyalty in Ireland.

I could not recommend Chilli Pepper highly enough for its professional approach, outstanding insight and clarity of direction, as well as its continued assistance in keeping us on strategy and leading the new wave of customer loyalty programmes in Ireland.

Group Corporate Services Director.

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Circle K: Play or Park

Circle K: Play or Park

Gamification changes the loyalty game completely for Ireland's largest fuels & convenience retailer