Brands don’t Matter

Brand consciousness may be on the increase in Kashmir but when it comes to car fuels people still prefer the normal ones over the additive laden branded fuels. Abdul Mohamin reports

Kashmiris may be turning brand conscious about their apparel and other accessories but when it comes to car fuel they prefer the normal one over the more expensive additives laden variety.

The branded car fuel sales have gone down with many petrol pumps stopping the sale of these fuels.  Petrol pump owners blame the frequent surge in fuel prices for it.

Compared to the normal versions of fuels, the branded fuel is an additive mixed fuel designed to deliver better mileage, more power, better pick-up, faster acceleration, enhanced engine cleanliness and lower emissions.

The customers say that the branded fuels fail to deliver on the promises made by the oil companies.

A petrol pump owner in old city said that in our part of the world, brand recognition is dramatically influencing consumer choices in food and clothes but fuels have failed to make a mark even though the oil companies have are using large scale advertising to garner the market.

Pointing to a big hoarding at his outlet that vows to take customer an extra mile a tagline for IOC’s Xtra Premium brand fuel series, the dealer said that there is no such stuff present at their station as sales have gone down drastically and a price increase in fuels is now pushing out the branded versions.

“We have totally stopped selling it at our pump as it was loss making as storage of fuels over long period is unfruitful for the dealers as there is an automatic volumetric decay with fuels stored for longer time period,” he said.

Ali Mohammad Manager Srinagar Garage, a Bharat Petroleum outlet, at Sonawar Srinagar said that customers are least bothered about quality of any fuel they purchase, though it compromises a major segment of their spending.

“Our sales of branded versions have come down to four percent, even though in 2009 there was a huge demand, but it started to go down since last year,” he said adding that a visible difference in the rate structure between the normal and branded versions was driving away customers from the branded versions.

A litre of branded petrol is around Rs 2.50 dearer than the regular petrol, while in diesel the price difference is Rs 5 for a litre.

With the prices of both branded and non-branded petrol and diesel witnessing frequent rises with spurt in crude oil prices in the global market, customers have opted for normal version fuels, even though owners of high end vehicles still ask for the branded version.

The dealers say that the promotional advertising has failed to rope in customers as “many feel that the product is not delivering the promised results”.

Niyaz Ahmad Bhat who has switched over to the branded version for a brief time earlier, said that there was not much in these branded versions that one could become brand loyal.

“I started using them after Hindustan Petroleum two years ago held a contest where in prizes won by customers were reimbursed by offering them branded fuels, but there was not much in this stuff and I stopped using them as there was not much improvement in vehicle performance,” said Bhat.

The dealers say that the product are not magical and only adds to the performance of the vehicle when used over a time, but using them once or switching to normal fuel frequently cannot enhance the overall performance of the vehicle.

Dealers say that the branded fuel versions are hidden inside a tank and they do not give any signature emission. In other branded products, display of tags is more prominent than the stuff they are made and this obscurity also adds to the failure of fuels getting popular.

A petrol pump owner told Kashmir Life that the oil companies pushed for the sales by asking the dealers to sell more of the branded versions and phasing out the regular variants, but this was resisted by the dealers and many now sell the stuff in tandem with the normal one.

This dealer said that failure of the branded fuels to take off on large scale in our part was also because of adulteration in all fuels segments and regular versions being sold as branded and several complaints about dealers’ malpractices.

This also dented the hopes of oil companies with their effort to encouraging the customers to look for branded fuel now reversing and a shift to conventional fuels being witnessed.


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