SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Despite rising petroleum prices, a gas tank fill-up will soon be a lot more affordable for more than 1,000 Big Y consumers.
The retailer's “$100,000 Fabulous Fuel Giveaway” will award a grand prize of $2,500 worth of home heating fuel, and another for $2,500 worth of gasoline. An additional 200 people will get $250 for fuel, while 1,000 will get $50 worth of gasoline.
Shoppers are automatically entered each time they purchase any five Big Y private-label brands, including Big Y, World Classics Trading Co., Paws Premium, Top Care and about 10 others. The five items need not be purchased in one shopping trip. The promotion runs through March 26.
Winners are notified by a message at the bottom of their register receipts.
Big Y declined to comment.
The promotion comes at a time when rising crude oil costs have led to national hikes in heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel. Home heating oil prices in New England, where Big Y operates stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts, were $3.29 a gallon in December 2007, up from $2.41 a gallon in December 2006, according to the Energy Information Administration, a Washington-based statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Energy. Likewise, New England gas prices were $3.08 a gallon the week of Jan. 21, up 83 cents from the same week in 2007, according to the EIA.
High gas prices have led half of U.S. consumers to reduce their spending, according to a Nielsen Co study. They're doing so by combining shopping trips and errands (70%), eating out less (41%) and staying home more often (39%). They're also buying more private label and using more coupons and even changing their shopping patterns, as 27% said they're shopping more at supercenters or megastores and big-box stores.
When told of the Big Y promotion, Nielsen senior vice president Todd Hale said it's a unique way to link to an issue that's troubling for many consumers.
“It's a great way to build equity,” Hale told SN. “Big Y is broadening its brand image beyond the boundaries of its stores.”
Linking it to private label is smart, because shoppers who buy store brands are more affected by high gas prices, said Hale. Consumers with incomes of $40,000 are 25% more likely than most shoppers to buy private-label items to deal with high gas prices, while those with incomes of $100,00 or more are 42% less likely to buy store brands in response to escalating gas prices, according to Nielsen.
Along with Big Y, other retailers are also running fuel-discount promotions. At Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, for instance, there's the “fuelperks!” program, which awards a 10-cents-per-gallon savings at the company's GetGo fuel stations each time Giant Eagle loyalty card holders spend $50.
What makes the Big Y campaign unique is that unlike Giant Eagle, Big Y doesn't operate gas stations.
“Big Y is demonstrating to consumers that it wants to save them money outside its stores,” Hale stressed.
Other retailers are trying to make the same kind of connection. For instance, Price Chopper, Schenectady, N.Y., recently expanded its “Fuel AdvantEdge” program to New York's lower Hudson Valley. As reported, 16 local Sunoco stations partnered with Price Chopper to discount gasoline as a reward for grocery store purchases. Fuel AdvantEdge gives consumers a 10-cents-per-gallon discount on gasoline purchases for every $50 of groceries purchased using their Price Chopper AdvantEdge card. Price Chopper also runs the promotion in Watertown, N.Y.; in and around Syracuse N.Y.; and in Hartford, Conn.