The “Passenger Car Motor Oil Purchase Journey,” a recent study conducted by global information company The NPD Group, found that less than half of DIY consumers report purchasing motor oil on promotion. At the same time, promotional activity has increased for this product, as there were 14 percent more in-store circular motor oil advertisements in 2016 compared to the year prior*.
“There is a lot of promotional activity around the motor oil category in terms of the frequency, depth, number and type, but as a must-have category this raises the question of how effective these discounts are at generating additional sales,” said Nathan Shipley, director and automotive industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Consumers have shown they are willing to spend on what is necessary to keep their vehicles running at the optimal level, even if it comes at a certain price.”
An essential and routine part of vehicle ownership, the report found that more than 80 percent of DIY consumers make a planned motor oil purchase as opposed to buying on impulse, and more than half purchase it to use right away. More than 40 percent of consumers rely on mileage as the key indicator for an oil change, compared to 2 percent who reported that either a coupon/promotion or seeing oil in a store or ad drove their purchase. Once prompted, DIY consumers begin the purchase process with store selection, but tend to be retailer loyal when shopping for motor oil; they are not as likely to switch based on branded promotions, because they prefer to shop in a store they are familiar with.
Though not the sole deciding factor, price nevertheless plays a role in consumers’ thought process, seeing as all DIY consumers consider motor oil type/form and price to be most important when they begin the purchase journey. In the store, consideration shifts for non-millennials who tend to look first at brand, but millennials equally prioritize brand, type and price. Millennials also are more likely to purchase oil changing-related items or unrelated products, such as air fresheners and washer fluid, when in the store for motor oil.
“Being a necessity, consumers will, no matter what, be in stores to buy motor oil. With that, the opportunity for retailers and manufacturers lies less in promoting this category, and more in capitalizing on the consumer while he is in the store, and driving impulse purchases,” said Shipley.
*Based on motor oil promotions listed in the circulars of auto specialty retailers throughout the United States