IRVING, Texas - ExxonMobil is about to launch a new "Smart Card" that it hopes will eventually account for 20% of a retailer€™s card volume. The card will make its debut August 31 and offer consumers a 6-cents-per-gallon rebate on their gasoline and diesel fuel purchases.
Additionally, ExxonMobil will dish out rewards to store employees, based on the number of customer applications they submit, and plans a media advertising and digital support campaign to promote the new offering, sources say.
Officials with the company unveiled the new card at a teleconference yesterday, one of a number of regional powwows scheduled with wholesalers.
Oil companies across the board have seen a slump in proprietary card sales in recent years. The new "Smart Card" should "reinvigorate" the ExxonMobil program, the company said in a presentation to wholesalers.
Personal cardholders are among the most loyal customers, often making three to four transactions a month. Many have had an ExxonMobil card for 20 years or more. A QR code on register toppers, wallet cards and applications will allow customers to scan and go directly to ExxonMobil€™s website. There, ExxonMobil will track what types of websites the consumer previously visited, and will then target those sites for advertising of the offer.
The company€™s goal is to receive 250,000 completed applications. With 10,000 sites, that averages 25 applications per site or two per week €" 50 apps per site "is good," but more than 100 "is great," the company told marketers. Marketers could also consider offering a free car wash or a free ExxonMobil gift card to further promote the new "Smart Card."
ExxonMobil says it hopes to build awareness of the new offer through radio ads that will make customers more ready to listen when the sales associate starts his pitch. The radio campaign will start September 10 and run for four weeks. A nine-week digital effort is also planned, starting September 1.
The 6-cents-per-gallon offer is "a leading rebate" on oil company cards, according to the company. To qualify, however, the customer must buy 45 gallons during a statement period. The rebate is capped at 100 gallons a month, or $6, and will appear as a statement credit.
The reward program for retail employees was designed with input from ExxonMobil€™s branded jobber council. Members of the group urged ExxonMobil to base the employee rewards on the applications submitted, rather than the number of accounts actually approved by the company€™s card issuer, Citi.
Marketers also said the rewards would be a greater incentive if they were paid directly to the sales associate. So, ExxonMobil says each completed application will be worth $2 to the sales associate. The fifth application will bring in $10, and then it will be $2 again for every additional application, with rewards capped at $598 per employee. The company defines a "completed application" as being the first one from an "identifiable customer," with all fields filled in. Citi will be the ultimate judge of what is a "completed" app, ExxonMobil says.
There will be a special online program for retail employees. After they have registered and completed a short quiz, they will receive a special user number that will allow them to keep track of their reward account via computer or smart phone. Their accounts will be updated weekly and they can redeem their rewards €" gift cards and American Express cards €" online. Minimum redemption amount will be $25 and the accounts will be open until Jan. 31, 2013.
Marketers will have to register their stations for the program before Aug. 24 in order for their employees to sign up for the rewards. The first 20 sites with 150 Smart Card applications submitted to Citi will also receive a payment €" the wholesaler or marketer will get a $1,000 check for each qualifying station.
The new card has been slightly redesigned from the current proprietary card. It still features the Exxon tiger and Mobil Pegasus symbols, but with a change of background colors. New exterior and interior POP is also being issued, with the 6 cents rebate promise prominently displayed, and a question on the card will also be added to "mystery shopper" image inspections.
€" Carole Donoghue