It’s a gas: How American drivers prefer to refuel their vehicles  
May 25th, 2021, YouGov

It’s a gas: How American drivers prefer to refuel their vehicles  

What do Americans want from a gas station brand?

Data from YouGov Profiles reveals the (possibly unsurprising) fact that low prices are the top factor – one cited by 46% of American drivers. It may well be equally predictable that location (cited by 44% of drivers) comes in second. These things aren’t necessarily within the gas station’s control, but some other key factors are.

Two in five drivers, for example, say an “easy in and out” experience is a key factor in choosing a brand – so removing unnecessary barriers to buying gas and leaving the premises (42%). Not every customer might want to use a touchscreen or a smartphone to buy gas, but providing options may eliminate some of the friction of the gas station experience.

“Brand loyalty” plays a role for almost three in ten drivers (28%), and a solid rewards program plays a role for one in five (20%). Overall, though, brands play a smaller role than factors like convenience: American drivers don’t have a clear-cut favourite provider. The most popular gas station chain, cited by 14% of people with a driving license, is Shell – but “Other” takes a close second place (13%), third-placed ExxonMobil isn’t that far behind (11%), and neither are BP and Chevron in joint-fourth (10%).

Add-ons and other factors play a generally smaller role in a driver’s decision-making. So if a gas station has an expensive carwash facility, it should understand that just 11% of drivers actually consider it a reason to use a particular brand. If it impacts ease of access, or if it’s unduly expensive, it may not be worth building one on-site. Likewise with on-site convenience stores: just 15% say they play a role in overall decision-making.

Our data shows that people buy gas for a variety of reasons, but the most influential are price, location, and ease of use. While fuel prices might not be within an individual’s control, making the “in and out” experience faster and smoother may be a better bet than building a large carwash or expanding the convenience store.


YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.

Receive monthly topical insights about the auto industry, straight to your inbox. Sign up today.