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Z Energy takes aim at competition with data, branding

By Gavin Evans

Aug. 1 (BusinessDesk) - Z Energy says it will use the strength of its two brands and its increasing data capability to better target different customer segments and counter the threat from new outlets being built by smaller competitors.

The firm says more active use of its Pumped loyalty scheme will help the company increase the “stickiness” of its customers and reduce the cost to serve them.

It will offer more site-specific promotions and is also experimenting with two unmanned sites, which could become a model for Z-branded tier 3 sites. Alternatively they could join the Caltex or Challenge brands.

Z Energy is the country’s largest fuel retailer in a sector where the number of outlets continues to rise, even though overall petrol sales remain flat. It is turning more to customer data and analytics to better craft offers for individual customers and improve the other products and services it offers on its forecourts.

“We know who our customers are, what motivates them and what impacts their behaviour,” the company says in material for an investor presentation today. “We have the people, technology and information capability to use this knowledge to inform how we interact, reward them and enrich the experience of our customers.”

Z shares rose 1.4 percent to $6.58, taking their gain this year to about 22 percent.

The company noted that in the four years through 2018, 119 new outlets were opened across the industry and across most of the 21 brands operating.

Firms outside the four major brands – Z, Caltex, BP and Mobil – now operate about 760 outlets, or about 60 percent of the total. They distributed close to 650 million litres of petrol last year – roughly twice that in 2011 and about 20 percent of total demand.

Z says resource and building consent applications suggest another 60 new-to-industry sites – roughly an extra 4 percent of capacity – could be added during the next three years.

Many of the latest sites being opened by firms like Gull and Waitomo are unmanned, but also tend to be in secondary locations, given their low-cost business model.

Z said its research suggests customers are not exclusive to unmanned brands or unmanned sites and move between brands based on the deals available and their needs on the day.

It also noted that less than a fifth of those 760 distributor sites are unmanned, or have a low-price focus.

Z says declining unit gross margins and demand, coupled with rising costs, will have an impact on the industry. But it says it is yet to see potentially sub-economic sites close, freeing up volume for other sites.

It estimates about 370 sites across the country each pump less than 2.5 million litres per year. That is equivalent to about 750 million litres of petrol and diesel that could shift to stronger locations, it said.

(BusinessDesk)

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