Lubricants are traditionally a low involvement product. Seldom do the consumers make the effort to undertake
market research, and the purchase decision relies largely on the mechanic’s recommendations.
This low customer engagement has given rise to many myths, the biggest one being that the brands with
greater visibility and premium pricing offer a better product than other competitively priced lube brands.
The situation needs to be looked at in the right perspective in the interest of transparency and consumer
welfare. The so-called premium brands are allocating huge budgets to promotions and brand endorsements,
but truth be told, marketing budgets are not directly proportional to product quality in the lube industry.
To make an informed choice, it is also important to understand that these overhead costs are ultimately
borne by the end consumer in the form of higher prices. In such a scenario, Unocal has been positioned
as a brand offering the highest quality of lube but at an affordable price. The parent company- Unocal,
is an American petroleum giant with over 150 years of history that has also been a Fortune 500 company.
Hence, the performance is at par with the likes of Castrol, Servo and Valvoline. By cutting down the
overheads and instead channeling the funds towards more rewarding spheres such as research and development
(R&D) and infrastructural upgradation, Unocal has been able to strengthen its QA/QC to match
international standards, rope in able scientists for new product developments and acquire state-of-the-art
machinery and equipment.
The misinformation widely prevalent in the market can also be, in part, attributed to a lack of government
norms regulating the lube industry. Autonomous bodies such as FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority
of India) in the food space and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the USA for the Pharma
space continuously monitor and audit plants of companies and keep a check on manufacturing standards.
In the absence of any such body regulating the Indian lube industry, the only governing standard for oil
quality is the IS 13656:2014 issued by BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards). This standard for maintaining oil
quality is essentially a reproduction of the international standards prevalent worldwide. The entire lube industry
is centered around standards released by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and API (American
Petroleum Institute), where the latter also forms a part of the name of oil products. The customers use
these terms all the time, while procuring a product or while identifying a grade at a shop, but are often not
aware of the relevance of the same. This allows the companies to evade quality specifications and fool the
customers by simply writing ‘meets/exceeds’ in front of the specifications.
A quick look at statistics can give a clearer picture. In India there are over 4000 small and big, local and
international lube oil manufacturers, only 0.4% of which are certified and licensed by API, and Unocal is
one of these 16 brands. All the rest cheating the customers with false claims and misleading declarations.
On the contrary, Unocal has the ability to offer quality assurance backed up with proper accreditation’s and
recommendations. Subsequently, Unocal offers the best in class lubricants at an affordable price.