SAN ANTONIO -- In a move to hit convenience stores where it hurts most, H.E. Butt Grocery Co. here is testing a new program in one store that rewards customers with free gasoline based on purchases of specific items.
The H-E-B program, which began Dec. 9 in its Uvalde, Texas, supermarket, encourages customers to purchase specific items and earn discounts on gasoline at participating H-E-B store locations with gas stations.
"We believe that free gas is a powerful incentive to [entice customers] to drive a bit farther to grocery shop," James Aulds, petroleum marketing director for H-E-B, said in a statement.
"We found that many of our female customers with children like the idea of one-stop shopping," said Mike De La Garza, spokesman for the retailer. "They also like the idea of the safety at these gas pumps. The stations are well lit and well trafficked."
De La Garza said the test should last about 12 weeks -- long enough to measure its effects in both the pre-holiday shopping rush and the post-holiday lull.
"We're looking at this test and trying to determine if it can be rolled out to the other H-E-B stores with gas stations," De La Garza told SN.
A list of products that offer discounts to be exchanged for fuel are posted at the store's front entrance, listed in a flier, and marked with signs on store shelves. The discounts range from $0.12 to $0.96, and the manufacturers of the promoted items pay for the gasoline discount.
At the start of the program, 150 products were linked to the fuel discount, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The discounts are automatically deducted at point-of-sale during checkout. There is no limit to the number of discounts the consumer can receive. The program is being run by Fuel Marketing Solutions, a fuel marketing company based in Dallas.