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Castrol has the Edge in consumer sales

Castrol is banking on demand from retail buyers for Edge, its new range of synthetic engine oils, before trying to sell it to dealers.

Edge, which took three years to develop at a cost of £10m, went on sale late September 2005 at more than 340 BP fuel forecourts and BP Connect stores, and at around 450 Halfords outlets.

Recommended retail prices are £11.99 for one litre, and £36.99 to £42.99 for a four-litre bottle. Castrol says Edge is the most important oil it has produced and there are different versions for petrol and diesel engines.

Andrew Jeffrey, Castrol’s European marketing manager, says: “Dealers and workshops tell us they are pushed for space with so many products around, so there is no point in us trying to get them to take it yet. We want to create a demand in the retail sector first.”

Edge is competing against Mobil 1 in the high-performance, low-volume synthetic oil sector. It accounts for only 5% of global lubes sales but the price and profit margin is higher. Edge replaces SLX in the retail marketing (and some independent workshops) only. However SLX will remain the brand for Professional and OEM Franchised workshops.

Castrol takes 33% of UK engine lubricant sales, compared with 25% across Europe. Halfords is key, accounting for 65% of those sales.

Jeffreys says: “Our aim, over the next 12 months, is to increase the share of UK retail lubricant sales taken by a Castrol synthetic.”

In the EU, heavy trucks take about half the BP subsidiary’s total sales, with 25% each for retail and workshops and manufacturer first-fills (including BMWs and Volkswagens).

The marketing campaign for Edge will be based around the theme of “passionate drivers who love their cars and want the best protection and performance, no matter what, where or how hard they drive”.

Castrol worked with BMW, VW and Audi during development and has a marketing tie-up with Aston Martin, which used Edge for its GT cars in this year’s race season. New Aston Martin Vantages are filled with the oil.

Jeffrey believes the industry has done a poor job in explaining the virtues of engine lubricants: “People still think first of protection against wear.”

If Edge is to succeed, Castrol must convince drivers that it is worth paying extra for additional performance.

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