Consumers are Mohawk-friendly

Vancouver-based Mohawk Oil, positioned as Mother Nature's Gas Station, has secured top-of-mind awareness in b.c. as an environment-friendly alternative, the results of a telephone survey show.The survey, conducted last March by Marktrend Market Research, shows 25% of those surveyed in British...

Vancouver-based Mohawk Oil, positioned as Mother Nature’s Gas Station, has secured top-of-mind awareness in b.c. as an environment-friendly alternative, the results of a telephone survey show.

The survey, conducted last March by Marktrend Market Research, shows 25% of those surveyed in British Columbia were able to identify Mohawk as the environmentally correct choice, compared with 17% for market share leader Chevron, 7% for Esso and 8%, respectively, for Petro Canada and Shell.

Share up

Mohawk’s share is up from 5% top-of-mind awareness in 1991.

Five hundred respondents in b.c. were asked to name the first gas station that came to mind when thinking of companies that sell gas which is less harmful to the environment.

A total of 1,500 people were interviewed throughout western Canada.

Mohawk sells gasolines blended with ethanol, a natural, renewable, high-octane additive made from Prairies grain, that can reduce exhaust emissions up to 40%.

The company’s most recent campaign, ‘We Struck Wheat,’ which included tv, radio, p-o-s and transit, was launched Sept. 28 and is based on the premise that ethanol-blended gasoline is good for the environment and good for one’s car.

Jeff Campbell, manager of advertising and promotion at Mohawk, says response to the company’s environmental positioning in Vancouver, where 40 of the company’s 250 western Canadian outlets are located, has been great.

‘This market seems to be predisposed to environmental initiatives,’ Campbell says.

‘Vancouver is a neighborhood type of city, and people tend to spend a lot of time where they live,’ he says.

‘They value service and friendliness and convenience. But they’ve also got a big lifestyle quotient, and that’s where the environmental aspect fits in. They enjoy where they live, and they want to keep it that way, too.’

Growing steadily

Campbell says the company’s market share has been growing steadily since 1988, adding most of the company’s new customers are coming on board specifically for the ethanol-blended gasoline.

‘In the course of their everyday living, they are making decisions that have an environmental quotient to them,’ he says.

As a result, Campbell says the company has been able to move away from a 25-year practice of discounting and promotions.

‘The focus group research we have conducted has shown that our customers are not the price-conscious group that moves from station to station to get the best deal,’ he says.

‘What we stand for’

‘They are loyal, not because of discounts, but because of who we are and what we stand for.’

Campbell says Mohawk is a different kind of company.

‘It’s owned by its employees, so there’s a commitment to on-going, sustainable development of the company and the environment that it’s in,’ he says. ‘It’s part of our mission statement.’

The company has sold ethanol-blended gasolines since 1980, but has only recently begun to publicize the fact.

‘We were ahead of our time,’ Campbell says.

Topical

As people’s attitudes change, it’s become topical,’ he says, adding that provincial legislation prohibits b.c. drivers from renewing their insurance until their cars pass an emissions test.

In addition to the ethanol-blended gasolines, the company sells Canadian Pride, re-refined motor oil that meets or exceeds North American and import specifications.

Campbell says Mohawk’s plant, located in North Vancouver, re-refines 30 million litres of used motor oil annually, or 10% of the estimated 300 million litres dumped each year into the Canadian environment.

Award

In 1989, the plant won Environment Canada’s first corporate achievement award.

The re-refined oil and the ethanol-blended gasolines are also entitled to display Environment Canada’s ecologo, which identify products that reduce harm to the environment.

Campbell says he looks forward to the day when the company will start selling M-85, a blend of 85% methanol, or liquified natural gas, and 15% gasoline.

‘This is not the end of the road in terms of automobile fuels,’ he says. ‘It’s another step to reducing emissions.’

Campbell says Mohawk has staked its future on environmental products.

‘It’s who we are,’ he says.