• Apr 22, 2008
Oil company advertising is apparently much more effective than we had originally thought. As gasoline prices creep up towards $4.00 per gallon (already there in Southern California), consumers are still more likely to purchase fuel based on brand over price.

According to NPD Group analyst David Portalatin, consumers cite "product performance" as their justification for buying one particular brand over another. It's all due to very effective branding and marketing, cites Portalatin. (We'd have to agree, as we've yet to meet anyone who can discern a difference between a tank of Chevron or Costco fuel from the driver's seat.) Now that the massive oil mergers are behind them, the petroleum giants are focusing on selling "quality" to differentiate themselves from the discount fuel stations. As consumers continue to blindly drive towards big brand gasoline, their efforts are apparently working -- regardless of cost. Let's just hope Starbucks doesn't catch wind of this trend and try a new source of revenue...

[Source Advertising Age, Photo by David McNew, Getty Images]



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  • 66 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm guilty; I buy Shell whenever possible.

      Everyone else, please put your posts below this one. Thanks.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I admit that I use Chevron almost exclusively. I'm sure the difference in quality is minimal, but it's only a couple cents more than the WalMart pump near our home. I've had a Chevron credit card for ten years and it still happens to be the most convenient stop along my commute. I encourage my wife to use it because the Chevron station near our home is very well lit and clean and in a good neighborhood. That peace of mind and the reward coupons make up for a few cents per gallon.
        • 6 Years Ago
        the tier 1 gas (shell, mobil, chevron) has been proven to leave fewer deposites. just because it is in the comercials does not mean its bull.

        it also dynos higher on some engines. i know ls1 can dyno as much as +-5 hp depending on the brand of fuel.

        i get arco when i can because it seems to be a few cents cheaper and i dont think quality matters for my car

        • 6 Years Ago
        Chevron because it's closest to my house (and it seems to always be cheaper than the Mobil across the street). 76 everywhere else.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "as we've yet to meet anyone who can discern a difference between a tank of Chevron or Costco fuel from the driver's seat"
        I'm that guy. I always put Shell in my car. My wife filled it with walmart gas once and i knew before i made it out of my apartment complex.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I try and stick with Chevron, Shell, 76. Chevron mostly since I've noticed better performance overall with gas from them (most people will think I'm crazy but I can feel a difference in performance).
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually...I notice a BIG differnce between Costco gas (what i used to get) and Chevron gas (what I now get).

        I used to fill up with Costco gas..and only acheived about 17 mpg on my 325i. I switched to Chevron (pay about .20 gallon more) and average about 21 mpg on a tank.

        That makes a big difference in the long run. About 60 miles to a tank. That allows me to go an extra day or two on each tank. I will never buy Costco gas (or any other discount gas) again.
          • 6 Years Ago
          something important to note is that for costco gas (as well as sams club gas) it is not the same gasoline from week to week. they simply buy whoever has the cheapest price or an overstock that week (which is how they keep the price low). one week you could be buying the same gas you would get at a shell station, and the next it could be the very same gas you think is so much better from chevron.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I've had several oil analyses done, and several times the analyst has suggested that I should run Shell and avoid BP, citing anecdotal evidence that it does help oil health & engine longevity.

        Truth or not, the guy has been doing this for a long time and has seen enough motors that I figure it doesn't really hurt. I prefer Shell, avoid BP, and other than that I'm indifferent. There's a Marathon and a GetGo (Giant Eagle's gas chain) near my office and I use both of those equally, with preference only to GetGo when I have a gas discount from grocery shopping. :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hmmm - I came on this board because I see no difference in price between QT and Mobil in St. Louis MO - maybe there is a difference in price elsewhere but not here. In San Jose CA I always used ARCO and the cars ran fine - every 6 months or so I throw in a can of fuel injector cleaner which I'd do no matter what brand I use. I never noticed/don't think brand will give 21 vs 17 mpg as someone noted - the biggest help for mileage is from going light on the gas pedal.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ah - mistake Mr "17 vs 21 mpg" - I've heard that higher ethanol content reduces mileage, so that could be true with Costco vs Chevron (which also has Techron which is supposed to clean injectors), but I'd like more research if there's 20% difference in mileage....
      • 6 Years Ago
      I use one brand over another because of the fuel requirements for my car. BP is one of the few places that carries 93 octane here and so I always hit a BP...especially since there are two on my way to and from work. I also avoid the cheap stations because they have a bad problem with water in the tanks. Dunno about you guys, but if mine ran on watered down gas I'd be saving myself a lot of money right now with the garden hose.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I look at gas as like this... let's say $.20 difference between tier 1 and tier 2 at whatever price range, for same "quality" or grade. Over 150,000 miles (@ 25mpg let's say) that is 6000 gallons. Multiplied out, that's $1200. Depending on how many years you drive (say 8 years to get there), then it's $150 extra per year. Okay, what are you doing with that $150? You pay more in "insurance" for something that might never happen, so look at the $150 as "insurance" for your engine.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Gas is gas to a certain extent. It is true that the gasoline that you put in your car meet the octane ratings set by the governing entity. But the base formula for the gasoline that you put in your car is essentially the same across all brands. The MAJOR difference between brands is the additive. Whether it is Chevron's Techron or Shell's V-Power, these additives are what really keep the deposit build up in your engine. It is also these additives that are really the price difference between a "Top Tier" brand and an "Off Brand," as they are not typically included in the non-top tier brands.

      So essentially, RDS, BP, XOM, or CVX sell their base gasoline to the stop-n-rob's but without their brand specific additives. Once the gasoline is at the stations, it is up to the operator of the station (not the brand) to follow the guidelines on tank dewatering, sediment cleaning, and maintenance.

      It would surprise most people to find out that if there are no refineries for "Brand A" in your area, the will most likely buy the base gasoline from another refinery for "Brand B." Once loaded onto their own truck Brand A will then pump their own additive into the gasoline.

      Remote areas that are served by pipelines only, may follow the same path. Brand A may own and operate the pipeline that ships the base gasoline for Brand B, but is distributed by C and D at the terminus - where C and D then include their additives.

      Also on a side note, the mid-grade gasolines are a rip-off. They are just a blend of the low octane (87) and the high octance (91) formulas. The low and high test are the only two that are specifically formulated.

      I won't lie, I too am partial to a certain Top Tier Brand, but it is that brand that pays my bills...I guess that is the major difference.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i like to use citgo gas because its always cheap.

      does anyone know anything "bad" about citgo?
        • 6 Years Ago
        yeah, VZ... my bad, brain farts are painful in the morning... thats what I get for typing a reply while listening to a coworker
        • 6 Years Ago
        Other than lining Chavez's pockets I can't think of a thing.


        Yeah, its owned by the government of Peru... so any money made on the sale which goes back to Citgo actually goes to Peru's government.

        Don't worry though, he will be gone within five years or so after fleecing the people of their money, the only question will be what country he retires to
        • 6 Years Ago
        To Chris...

        Errr Peru???

        Don't you mean Venezuela?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I buy based on price, I would purchase top tier gas regardless of price if I could find it in my area... http://www.toptiergas.com/retailers.html
        • 6 Years Ago
        i agree with you, i believe the gas does make a difference, that's why I also agree on which car to use it for. MY RX-8 and 335i use top tier gas, and my other cars, still use top tier. I am definitely a brand whore!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Might have something to do with the oil company credit cards one carries in ones wallet.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I generally stick with Citgo, Sunoco, or Mobil (with Sunoco having always given the best mileage by a couple mpg). I had to get BP once and I noticed that I didn't do as well with it. The worst though was getting Nice & Easy (Central NY conveniece store/gas station chain), and in a drive where I should have burned less than a quarter of a tank, I ripped through 3/4 of a tank! Unless the situation is desparate (like that one was), my baby only gets brand name.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Personally, I buy the cheapest gas I can find that conforms to Top Tier standards. (www.toptiergas.com)
      • 6 Years Ago
      shell, 76, or chevron - whichever is cheapest is what goes in my tank!
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Already there in Southern California"

      More like: Already there in California... period.
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