Auto Service World
News   March 14, 2024   by Adam Malik

From the Magazine: Motor oil’s new frontier

As consumer behaviour evolves, so do their motor oil needs

Canadians are feeling the pinch when it comes to the economy and keeping more money in their pockets rather than spending it.

With many costs rising — led by increasing mortgage rates — Canadians are preferring not to dip into the savings they accumulated over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So I think we are starting to see some pullback on the consumer side of things,” said Thomas Feltmate, senior economist at TD Bank, at the Canadian Black Book Talk Auto 2023 conference near Toronto. “This is exactly what the Bank of Canada ultimately wants to see. We need to see weaker consumer spending over the next year or so such that we have further disinflationary pressure coming through.”

Watching their dollars is something Lenny Levac, Canadian sales director Canada from Liqui Moly, has noticed.

“Customers do have finances top of mind here in Canada,” he told CARS. “With costs continuing to rise in so many aspects in Canada, we need the most value we can find out of the products we purchase.”

But that also means routine maintenance is being ignored, deferring work and setting themselves up for larger bills down the road. “In the past, most would have gone ahead with the recommended work,” Levac said.

However, oil services have not been ignored. “It’s still one of the most important services that can be done to keep your investment in good order,” he added. “With so many of us using our vehicles to go to work, pick up the kids, hockey, soccer, life, we can’t afford to not change the oil. It’s what powers where you go.”

Sean Nguyen, Pennzoil’s technical scientist and automotive lubricant specialist. agreed. “While consumers may be tempted to extend their drain intervals to stretch their buying dollars, we advise against it.”

He notes that premium products can better protect vehicles from larger repair bills down the road.

“Shop owners need to have available synthetic high-mileage oils available for these high-mileage vehicles.”

That makes the relationship between shop and supplier important. Levac encourages their shop partners to continue engaging with them to ensure their needs are being met.

“The relationship between us and our customers and partners is so profound and sustainable that we only need to continue on the right path to be successful,” he said.

The relationship is built on trust. Shops rely on suppliers providing them with innovative products to better serve customers as their needs evolve.

“The messaging we have consistently delivered over the years reaffirms our commitment to being a brand our partners can rely on,” Nguyen said.

And if shops don’t know where to look to keep up with what consumer behaviour changes may impact their business, they can turn to their supplier partners.

“We are proactively engaging with automotive technicians and shop owners, offering educational resources, and providing product suggestions to support informed decision-making and meet customer needs,” Nguyen said.

For example, consumers are holding on to their vehicles longer than normal.

“Thus, they are accumulating more miles in these vehicles. Shop owners need to have available synthetic high-mileage oils available for these high-mileage vehicles,” Nguyen said.

This article originally appeared in the February issue of CARS

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