Thursday, January 25, 2007

Terror-Free Gas Station

In Omaha, Nebraska, a gas station called "Terror-Free Oil" just opened with an interesting marketing pitch: their gas will come exclusively from countries that do not "export or finance" terrorism. The company is associated with the Terror-Free Oil Initiative. Aside from the obvious socio-political nature of this endeavor, it is interesting to note that they have come up with an interesting differentiator for their business in an commodity industry governed almost exclusively by price and location.

I wonder if this will end up being the next big move in the industry to try to set oneself apart on a basis other than price (since a price war rarely, if ever, ends up benefiting either company) - the last one I can think of being the move towards all-in-one commuter haven represented by such companies as Sheetz, which tries to make itself the one stop shop for gas, breakfast, snacks, etc. such that, even if they don't have the lowest price, consumers will still patronize them for the convenience and variety of products. Previous to that, of course, was the rise of the mini-mart, which Sheetz is now taking to a new level by incorporating a fast-food like product line.

Regarding Terror-Free Oil, again, unfortunately, I expect that this will be another case of "Wal-Mart Hypocrisy" (if I may be permitted the coining of a term), that is, a case where everyone complains about a certain business or industry and then continues to patronize it because it is less expensive, more convenient, etc.


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