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Live From COLLOQUY Loyalty Summit: For Shell, Partnerships Fuel Long-Term Loyalty

$html.esc($author.firstName) Bells By Karen Bells on October 21, 2015

When you’re going on a journey, it’s always nice to have a sweet ride. 

This is no problem for global fuel retailer Shell, which considers itself on a constant journey of loyalty and counts performance-car manufacturers Ferrari and BMW among its partners. 

Partnerships – and not just with things that that go fast, although NASCAR, Penske and Formula 1 are in that category, too – are the future of customer engagement and a critical part of Shell’s long-term plan, said Todd Gulbransen, loyalty and CRM manager, North America. 

“Leadership in customer loyalty will be fueled by partnerships,” he told the audience during a general session at the 13th annual COLLOQUY Loyalty Summit. “We fundamentally believe this at Shell, and we have the evidence to support it.”

Gulbransen oversees several strategic relationships, including a longtime partnership with Canadian coalition-loyalty program AIR MILES (operated by COLLOQUY parent and Summit sponsor LoyaltyOne), as well as collaborations with Excentus – operator of coalition fuel program Fuel Rewards – and MasterCard. 

“I think our relationship Is getting better because now we’re starting to work more as a unit with Excentus and MasterCard,” he said. “We’re all at the table trying to understand how we make best use of data to drive business and meet everyone’s (key performance indicators).”

When Shell – which has more than 40,000 service stations in 90 countries and sees 300 cars on its sites every second of the year – decides to tie its fortunes with another company, it starts with a very simple approach.

“The first thing we do is try to understand what’s important to them,” said Gulbransen. “We do our due diligence to understand what’s important to the potential partner and how can we enhance them.”

Also critical for Shell: It does not want to be merely a passive redemption partner. In the relationship with Excentus, for example, Shell helps attract partners into the coalition and create incentives for them. 

With its recently announced partnership with BMW, Shell was able for the first time to bring a product launch – its V-Power Nitro+ premium gasoline –with a partner unveiling, using loyalty as the bridge. At a high-production live event in Nashville for wholesalers and their associates, Shell created excitement for the product launch and the announcement of the BMW partnership. It also kicked off a cross-country road rally to promote the new fuel with a splashy event on Times Square in New York. 

The partnership was tied into a longer promotion, which included giving away 100 BMWs in 100 days: Fuel Rewards members automatically were entered in the contest at the pump, and members who purchased the new premium fuel received 10 entries.  The partnership and product news were also integrated throughout a variety of digital and mobile efforts, as well as CRM and advertising campaigns.

For Shell, partnerships will continue to be the right formula to ensure customer loyalty and engagement. And the stakes are high: For every one of its best customers it loses, Gulbransen said, the company has to replace that person with 28 new customers to eventually get the same impact. 

There’s still plenty of work to be done, as well. Only 7% of its customers visit Shell four or more times per month. For a high-frequency category like fuel, Gulbransen said, “we know we can do better.”

With smart partners who share its “together we’re strong than alone” philosophy, Shell believes it can get there. 

When you’re going on a journey, it’s always nice to have a sweet ride.

 

This is no problem for global fuel retailer Shell, which considers itself on a constant journey of loyalty and counts performance-car manufacturers Ferrari and BMW among its partners.

 

Partnerships – and not just with things that that go fast, although NASCAR, Penske and Formula 1 are in that category, too – are the future of customer engagement and a critical part of Shell’s long-term plan, said Todd Gulbransen, loyalty and CRM manager, North America.

 

“Leadership in customer loyalty will be fueled by partnerships,” he told the audience during a general session at the 13th annual COLLOQUY Loyalty Summit. “We fundamentally believe this at Shell, and we have the evidence to support it.”

 

Gulbransen oversees several strategic relationships, including a longtime partnership with Canadian coalition-loyalty program AIR MILES (operated by COLLOQUY parent and Summit sponsor LoyaltyOne), as well as collaborations with Excentus – operator of coalition fuel program Fuel Rewards – and MasterCard.

 

“I think our relationship Is getting better because now we’re starting to work more as a unit with Excentus and MasterCard,” he said. “We’re all at the table trying to understand how we make best use of data to drive business and meet everyone’s (key performance indicators).”

 

When Shell – which has more than 40,000 service stations in 90 countries and sees 300 cars on its sites every second of the year – decides to tie its fortunes with another company, it starts with a very simple approach.

 

“The first thing we do is try to understand what’s important to them,” said Gulbransen. “We do our due diligence to understand what’s important to the potential partner and how can we enhance them.”

 

Also critical for Shell: It does not want to be merely a passive redemption partner. In the relationship with Excentus, for example, Shell helps attract partners into the coalition and create incentives for them.

 

With its recently announced partnership with BMW, Shell was able for the first time to bring a product launch – its V-Power Nitro+ premium gasoline –with a partner unveiling, using loyalty as the bridge. At a high-production live event in Nashville for wholesalers and their associates, Shell created excitement for the product launch and the announcement of the BMW partnership. It also kicked off a cross-country road rally to promote the new fuel with a splashy event on Times Square in New York.

 

The partnership was tied into a longer promotion, which included giving away 100 BMWs in 100 days: Fuel Rewards members automatically were entered in the contest at the pump, and members who purchased the new premium fuel received 10 entries.  The partnership and product news were also integrated throughout a variety of digital and mobile efforts, as well as CRM and advertising campaigns.

 

For Shell, partnerships will continue to be the right formula to ensure customer loyalty and engagement. And the stakes are high: For every one of its best customers it loses, Gulbransen said, the company has to replace that person with 28 new customers to eventually get the same impact.

 

There’s still plenty of work to be done, as well. Only 7% of its customers visit Shell four or more times per month. For a high-frequency category like fuel, Gulbransen said, “we know we can do better.”

 

With smart partners who share its “together we’re strong than alone” philosophy, Shell believes it can get there.