Sip and Save (on fuel!)

Paula Thomas, Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes


A year after Dunkin’ dropped “Donuts” from its name, I for one am still struggling to get used to simply saying Dunkin’. Old habits die hard, but one thing is clear, with over 60% of its US sales coming from drinks such as coffee, Dunkin’ is laser-focused on re-positioning itself as a “beverage-led” company.

A key pillar of this strategy is its DD Perks programme which we’ve previously admired, with Dunkin’ effectively leveraging digital technology, payments partnerships and its customers’ love of coffee and baked goods to achieve an impressive membership base of over 12 million members. Before discussing its latest marketing moves, I firstly wanted to mention how impressed I am with how they’ve positioned the DD Perks programme so prominently on their website as a clear “sub-brand” as shown here:


DD Perks is prominently positioned as a prominent brand on the Dunkin’ website.


And the company is showing no signs of slowing down, with a strategic focus on retail partnerships that is giving their coffee-loving customers another exciting choice as a reward option – a discount on gas with Shell, the largest fuel network in the United States, via the Fuel Rewards programme.

Dubbed “Sip Dunkin’, Save at Shell”, the rewards partnership was originally announced as a pilot in the Northeast of the country and is clearly going from strength to strength with the brands together announcing this week that the “Sip and Save” partnership now connects their two powerful loyalty programmes nationwide and also been extended throughout 2020. Described as two brands that “both play a big part in keeping Americans fueled throughout their busy day”, it shows the power of partnerships to drive mutual benefit across complementary categories.

How It Works:

Shell is the market leader for fuel in the US and operates over 13,000 gas stations across the country, leveraging the “Fuel Rewards” platform as it’s loyalty programme. As perhaps the only real nationwide coalition loyalty programme, members earn rewards on everyday purchases from a variety of retailers such as Dunkin, and then redeem cents-per-gallon discounts as a reward. The “Sip Dunkin’, Save at Shell” partnership “allows Fuel Rewards® members with Gold Status and who are also members of the DD Perks® Rewards Programme a saving of 10 cents per gallon of gas every time they buy and swipe five drinks at a Dunkin’ location.”

“Fuel Rewards” is the only real Coalition-Style Loyalty Platform in the United States. 

The Mechanics:

  • Customers must be members of both the Fuel Rewards and DD Perks programmes.
  • Members then link their programmes on the dedicated website:
  • Fuel Rewards® members “must be gold status” to take part in the promotion. This is awarded instantly to everyone on registration, however customers must be active (i.e complete a minimum of 6 fuel purchases within three months) to STAY at gold status. A nice and novel approach combining instant gratification with our human tendency to avoid “losing” something we’ve “earned”.
  • As an initial incentive, early adopters earn a one-off bonus discount of 25 cents per gallon for linking their cards and accounts.
  • DD Perks members then buy just five beverages and ensure they scan their membership card or app.
  • These members then automatically save 10 cents per gallon on their next fill-up at Shell when they present their Fuel Rewards® gold card. The gold card discount features a 5 cent per gallon discount which is combined with an additional 5 cent discount funded by Dunkin’.
  • Members can enjoy the promotion any number of times throughout the year.

Leveraging Loyalty Across Partners:

The United States is well known as one mature loyalty market that has not successfully created a loyalty coalition model in the way that other major markets like the UK (with the Nectar programme) and Germany (with the Payback programme) do, so it’s interesting to note that Fuel Rewards is operating the closest model as a multi-partner programme. Famous US coalition failures include the Plenti programme by American Express which allowed consumers to earn points across multiple lifestyle categories, however ultimately lacked sufficient awareness, understanding, breadth of partnerships and speed to earn rewards.

Fuel Rewards has managed to succeed with its simple, single-minded reward benefit of fuel discounts, which it claims is the single most popular reward currency that US consumers wantwith 37 percent of consumer preferring fuel discounts over credit card rewards, coupons, retailer points and instant discounts at the cash register.” Shell is is the exclusive national provider of the rewards – i.e. discount fuel purchases for eligible customers.

Some of the US Partners Who Award Fuel Rewards® on Spend

Sip and Save

For a company that operates more than 13,000 restaurants in 41 countries worldwide, it’s fascinating to follow a loyalty strategy that is so clearly open to new ideas and truly rewarding its customers with what THEY want. Flexibility and freedom to enjoy rewards beyond “more coffee and donuts” sound like a winning idea that will resonate for many years to come.


About Us:

Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialised for the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.

How we do it:

We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.

Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.

One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.

Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:

About Me:

Paula Thomas

Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant

With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing consulting, managing consumer loyalty propositions, strategy and operations. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer Group, as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a former judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards.



Future of loyalty newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter, and don’t miss a thing. You will receive email newsletters with our latest blog articles, case stories, and ideas-to-go.

E-mail address