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2011 Program Group Product Study: Motor Oil

Synthetics and other motor oil varieties seeing heightened demand
Monday, January 24, 2011 - 00:00
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Sales of synthetic motor oils and products containing higher amounts of zinc are up among the members of AAM Group/Parts Pro.

“Individuals desiring higher performance levels or longer engine life appear to be more willing to invest in premium synthetic oils,” says Tim Odom at the group’s headquarters.

With a synthetic oil offering, they “have found a significantly growing demand for the product line with annual growth rates exceeding 20 percent for the past several years,” he reports.

 

“Additionally, we are noting a growth in demand for oils with higher zinc content due to its removal from current off-the-shelf oil blends. Vehicles manufactured without roller lifters, or with slipper rockers or tappets, were designed to utilize zinc – and cam failures have been occurring due to its absence.”

Two brands in particular “have been making excellent traction in the ‘high zinc’ market,” and two other vendors have recently introduced versions of the product.

“These oils are not suitable for cars built in the last 20 years or so, but the performance enthusiast is keeping a strong base of pre-roller equipped engines on the street,” Odom says. “We expect high zinc oils to become a staple at our stores.”

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Overall oil sales for 2010 rose slightly over 2009’s figures at Lowe Automotive, which belongs to the Automotive Distribution Network.

“I believe the increase in sales is mainly due to a greater amount of product offering and specialized fluids,” says Deno Valenti, general manager of the St. Louis-based operation’s aftermarket division; the coverage area ranges from southern Missouri up to Wisconsin.

“Synthetics sales are higher than previous year with the expected trend to continue,” he says, noting that “the vast amount of our (overall) oil sales are done by the quart or gallon” as opposed to larger container sizes.

“Pricing is important on the generic or private label product,” Valenti adds. “Quality and availability are more important on the branded segment.”

For Mike Mohler, vice president and director of product management for the National Pronto Association, the most popular container size is quart bottles. “We have a scant amount of drum sales.”

However, Pronto’s retailer members are starting to ask about the availability of five-gallon sizes, which the group headquarters is looking into.

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The entire motor oil category is under review at Pronto, according to Mohler. “Today we’re buying oil from multiple vendors, and we’re trying to harness the collective buying power of the group.”

He reports that “our private label vendor is telling us that our sales are trending up. We have more members taking advantage of our private labels.”

Mohler goes on to note that “we’ve seen an increase in synthetics. It’s very well received by our members, but they still buy the ‘dinosaur oil’ – the conventional oil that comes out of the ground.”

Oil manufacturers have been doing a good job with offering promotions, he says, adding that “we’re keeping a stern eye” on a proprietary blend from General Motors, wondering if other automakers are following suit with similar varieties to add to the product mix. “You don’t want to bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away, because it won’t.”

Sales of synthetic motor oils and products containing higher amounts of zinc are up among the members of AAM Group/Parts Pro.

“Individuals desiring higher performance levels or longer engine life appear to be more willing to invest in premium synthetic oils,” says Tim Odom at the group’s headquarters.

With a synthetic oil offering, they “have found a significantly growing demand for the product line with annual growth rates exceeding 20 percent for the past several years,” he reports.

 

“Additionally, we are noting a growth in demand for oils with higher zinc content due to its removal from current off-the-shelf oil blends. Vehicles manufactured without roller lifters, or with slipper rockers or tappets, were designed to utilize zinc – and cam failures have been occurring due to its absence.”

Two brands in particular “have been making excellent traction in the ‘high zinc’ market,” and two other vendors have recently introduced versions of the product.

“These oils are not suitable for cars built in the last 20 years or so, but the performance enthusiast is keeping a strong base of pre-roller equipped engines on the street,” Odom says. “We expect high zinc oils to become a staple at our stores.”

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