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Paper or plastic? asked the grocery storesupermarket checkout clerk. But a better question would be, Do you want inexpensive gas or low-cost groceries?

Thats the outcome of a new report launched by LoyaltyOne, a professional in creating and carrying out consumer commitment programs for sellers. Evaluating study information from 1,000 American buyers, LoyaltyOne reports that most of us are unenthused with grocery stores rewarding us for our shopping with points that can be developed into discount rates on fuel purchases.

Ends up, when grocery shopping, what wed really like is just much cheaper groceries.

Survey States …

Grocery shopSupermarket chains such as Safeway and Kroger (KR) prefer to reward shoppers with commitment points that can be sold for savings on fuel purchases at their store-run gasoline station. (Krogers points can likewise be used at Shell gas stations). But, in exactly what LoyaltyOne explained as a resounding message for such grocery shopsupermarket chains, the company discovered that 72 percent of consumers would choose that grocers offer discounts in the aisle instead of at the pump.

As you may expect, folks paying out the most ($700 a month and up) for groceries were more likelymost likely than typical to require less costly groceries. Eighty-three percent of such huge spenders would choose to invest a bit less and let the supermarkets keep their gas points.

Young consumers (ages 25-35), statistically less most likely to even have vehicles, prefer less costly groceries over less costly gas by almost as big a margin– 76 percent. And this fact backs up a point made by LoyaltyOne Consulting Managing Partner Dennis Armbruster: a generic fuel offer [may not even be] appropriate to all consumers. Warns Armbruster, when supermarkets reward customer commitment with a reward the customer cant use (or simply doesn’t want), that represents untargeted marketing spending undermining ROI.

(Translated from corporate-speak, that implies squandered cash.)

Additional complicating the issue, some consumers said theyd prefer to receive travel rewards (8 percent) instead of savings on gas. Six percent desire a complimentary toaster– or as LoyaltyOne put it, electronics, housewares or garments.

What It Suggests to Grocers

LoyaltyOnes survey recommends that grocery stores that provide consumers exactly what they want may be able to steal customers away from more mule-headed rivals. According to the survey, 62 percent of participants said theyd switch to grocery benefits if a grocer providing gas rewards gave them the choice of a different type of benefit.

The very first grocer to figure that out might be successful in stealing customers from its rivals.

What It Suggests to You

Mentioning which, if you count yourself among the 72 percent of Americans who choose less costly groceries over discounts on gas, travel, and even free toasters– congratulations. Youre part of a trend that extends through the grocery store, past the checkout counter, out into the parking area, and all the method down the street to the bank.

Less expensive groceries put more money in your pocket– by not requiring you to take it out of your pocket and hand it to the cashier in the very first location. And it ends up, money is a quite popular reward. A 2012 study by Bankrate (RATE) subsidiary CreditCards.com, for example, found that credit card users prefer getting money more than other advantages, such as airline company tickets. Discussed CreditCards.com, the reason is easy: cash is cash, and there are no challenging conversions trying to determine the value of points or miles.

Three years after its preliminary finding, CreditCards.coms newest upgrade reports that 60 percent of wealthy Americans … state cash back is their favorite credit card perk. And a current Integrity survey says that total, 63 percent of rich and poor charge card holders alike choose getting money back.

Summarizing its workings with, CreditCards.com notes: Cash back is king.

All makings sense. While supermarkets, gasoline station and airlines may like the concept of locking clients into restrictive systems, and requiring you to jump through hoops to make your benefits, these aren’t always excellent dealsbargains for customers. All else being equivalent, its much better to just get more cash in your pocket, whether from cash back or simply less expensive prices on goods and services. Then you can use that cash to purchase whichever company offers you the bestthe very best offer– on gas or on groceries, aircraft tickets or toaster ovens.

Given, this might not be the perfect solution for the supermarkets. Probably, the offers theyve worked out with the filling station chains make it less expensive for them to provide gas-point discount rates than to use up a comparable amount on offering grocery discount rates. That would describe why theyve picked this type of benefit over others. But if the idea is to invest this cash to buy consumer loyalty, and if gas points aren’t doing the technique– perhaps giving devoted consumers the rewards they in fact want would be cash much better invested?

Motley Fool factor Rich Smith doesn’t own shares of any of the stocks discussed above. (Nor does The Motley Fool). Rich collects gas points at the grocery store because– well, why not? However all else being equal, yes, hed really probably choose money back, too.

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