Written on: March 6, 2018 by Paul J. Nazzaro
In the perpetual search for the next great renewable heating fuel, there remains only one that has a sufficient supply and distribution network in place, can be used in (and is, in fact, better for) existing heating oil equipment, can beat natural gas on environmental benefits, and has the marketing support of both The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) and the state oil heat associations.
Yet, if you asked the average homeowner about their thoughts on Bioheat® fuel, you’d probably get little more than a blank stare in return. If the heating oil industry is going to survive in the 21st century, that scenario needs to change.
Lack of consumer knowledge is one of the biggest obstacles facing heating oil dealers today. The common belief that every dealer is essentially selling the same product means that many heating oil consumers are making decisions based exclusively on price. In response, the industry has largely conformed to that narrative, regarding fuel as a mere commodity—and marketing it as such.
While there’s no denying that marketing low price to a price-driven consumer base is an effective way to attract new customers, it’s no way to retain them. A dealer who wins a customer on dollar-per-gallon today is the dealer who will lose a customer on dollar-per-gallon tomorrow.
Brand loyalty is built upon differentiation and oil heat dealers have never had a more marketable product with which to differentiate themselves than Bioheat®. With the transition to Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil (ULSHO), and with B6-B20 ® blends included in ASTM D396 heating oil standards, oil heat dealers can now offer the safest and least carbon-intensive renewable fuel on the market—at a time when consumer demand for such a product is at an all-time high. At a cost competitive rate, heating oil customers can have a far cleaner, more efficient and higher performing product that will benefit the environment, their health, and their wallet.
Just a few years ago, an oil heat consumer research study by Warm Thoughts Communications found that nearly 50% of younger-aged homeowners interested in converting from oil heat to natural gas said that they would be less likely to do so if Bioheat® was available to them.
Educating the consumer
Bioheat® can only serve as an effective differentiator if consumers are educated on the topic. Raising consumer awareness via website, social media, marketing brochures, traditional advertising, customer newsletters and through personal interaction are all good ways to market fuel quality. However, the most effective marketing strategy is to provide evidence that the fuel actually works. Showing customers their fuel filters, tracking efficiency measures and recording drops in maintenance issues goes a long way towards debunking the tired “oil is oil” narrative, strengthening your value proposition and building loyalty not only to your brand, but to our industry. ICM
For more information on fuel quality, maintenance, additives, or treatment solutions, contact Paul Nazzaro at 978-258-8360 x301 or [email protected]