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]