The modern day service station radically differs from the petrol station of generations ago. Whereby in the past the primary function of a petrol station was simply to provide petroleum to customers this has been expanded to meet the changing needs of consumers, providing convenience items in addition to service (Azimont & Araujo, 2009). In attending to these changing needs a range of marketing tools known as the marketing mix must be utilised appropriately to guide businesses into a profitable organisation. These elements are often referred to as the four P’s; product, price, promotion and place and all work together to satisfy customer needs (Solomon, Hughes, Chitty, Fripp, Marshall & Stuart, 2011). In regards to petrol stations the product is a combination of many different elements, outlined below, which are all central to the feasibility of the company’s success (Solomon et al., 2011). The price of goods and services provided by petrol stations must be achievable by consumers whereas promotional aspects and availability and placement of the product must positively influence consumer purchasing (Soloman et al., 2011). Marketing Mix:
Marketing mix elements are designed specifically to address consumer’s needs and demands (Rosenbloom & Dimitrova, 2011). It has been identified that the two main types of consumers of petrol stations are; professionals whom access petrol stations as a form of convenience within their daily routine, and those professionals whom must access petrol stations to meet the needs of their job such as truck drivers (Azimont & Araujo, 2009). It is evident that both types of consumers have differing needs that must be fulfilled by the marketing mix elements of a petrol station. Research shows that these consumers’ needs range from having access to facilities such as toilets, services such as ATM’s and WIFI and convenience food that has been pre prepared such as sandwiches and beverages (Azimont & Araujo, 2009). The role and functions of petrol stations have developed over several years from specifically being a place where cars are refuelled to expanding into the selling of convenience food and drinks presented when purchasing fuel (Azimont & Araujo, 2009). This can be seen in sales records that show sales within the petrol stations stores produced higher profits then the selling of just fuel alone (Azimont & Araujo, 2009). As a result many fuel stations have altered their product focus from fuel to non-fuel items, therefore becoming the petrol stations that we see today around Australia (Azimont & Araujo, 2009). With petrol being a product that is available at a variety of fuel stations there is no disadvantage to the consumer to shop elsewhere for fuel (Azimont & Araujo, 2009). In addition external factors such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) monitor fuel prices of unleaded petrol, diesel and LPG throughout Australian capital cities to ensure fair competition between petrol station retailers in regards to fuel pricing and equality (Commonwealth of Australia, 2012). The effect of this means the petrol stations cannot use fuel pricing trickeries to gain customer loyalty however, major Australian supermarket chains have devised ways to form loyalty with their petrol station retail outlets through providing fuel discount dockets for consumers whom regularly shop at their supermarkets (Solomon et al., 2011).. Other petrol outlets such as Shell Australia have created ‘shell cards’ which is aimed at small businesses to help assist with fuel consumption management and pricing. (Helgesen, Havold & Nesset, 2010). These cards work on creating a client database where by they provide benefits of repeated purchasing fuel at specific Shell outlets and devise loyalty of customers (Helgesen et al, 2010). However it has been shown that this loyalty has not improved the purchasing of items within Shell service...
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