More than a third of motorists choose to fill up in forecourts with outdoor payment facilities, according to new research from customer intelligence company Market Force.

As Asda and Sainsbury’s announced they were cutting up to 3ppl from the price of fuel last week, Market Force asked 9,000 UK motorists what their favourite brand offered – besides price and convenience – that other brands didn’t. The results revealed that a pay-at-pump facility (with 37.2% of the vote) was the most important factor influencing where a customer chose to refuel.

Promotions and discounts came second with 35.5%, while one in four (24.9%) said that friendly and efficient service was why they liked a particular petrol retail brand.

The study also revealed that the majority (68.2%) of customers most frequently fuel their car at the supermarket while just 29% fill up at petrol stations with a national brand name. Tesco came out on top as the number-one choice with 26% of the votes.

Tim Ogle, Europe CEO at Market Force, said: “Our research reveals customers like the pay-at-pump facilities when buying petrol as it speeds up the process. However, one in four also said a friendly, as well as efficient, service was important to them. Shell’s recent announcement that it will recruit forecourt staff to fill up petrol for busy motorists shows it has listened to shoppers’ efficiency needs.

“As long as Shell ensures it employs the right people that will give a service with a smile, this is a great move and one that should differentiate the company from competitors to tempt customers away from the supermarket sector.”

Forecourts mustn’t forget that discounts and offers on the convenience produce in their stores are just as important as price promotions on fuel too, added Ogle. However, it is vital staff are trained to inform customers about promotions, and measures such as mystery shops and customer satisfaction surveys should be in place to ensure the information is communicated, he said.

Market Force’s research also revealed that 34.8% would be more likely to get petrol from a forecourt if it sells hot coffee.

Another area discussed with respondents was whether a good brand reputation had any effect on where they would purchase their petrol. Ogle said: “Who would have thought ‘reputation’ was more important to 18-24-year-olds than any other age group? There is a huge opportunity for brands to build on this – create a good relationship with this age group now and you could have a loyal customer for the long term.”