The Philippine downstream oil industry has grown significantly 18 years after the passage of the landmark Oil Deregulation Law of 1998.
Today, the fierce but friendly competition among industry players has become more evident with the newbies having captured a respectable 40 percent market share.
These new players includes Seaoil Philippines, Phoenix Petroleum, Unioil Philippines, Liquigaz, SL Harbor, TPC, TWA, PTT Philippines, Jetti, Isla Gas, Pryce Gases, Filoil, Microdragon, Petronas, South Pacific, Eastern Petroleum and others.
Petron Corp. has remained the biggest oil company in terms of market share accounting for 30.4 percent. followed by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. with 23 percent and Chevron Philippines as 6.9 percent market share last years.
To stay afloat amid stiff competition among industry players, oil companies try to offer competitive pricing, offer the best service to respond to customers’ needs, come up with the best marketing and branding campaigns and find the best strategic locations.
Early this month, Petron teamed up with Uber, a leading ride-sharing application, to give Uber partner drivers privileges and discounts.
Uber partner-drivers in Metro Manila are entitled to special bonus points, discounts and privileges when using the Uber x Petron Value Card for gasoline and diesel purchases at participating Petron service stations.
Holders of Uber x Petron Value Card are also entitled to savings of about 5 percent when they avail of the rebate/cash back benefit. They can also avail of free 24/7 towing assistance, personal accident insurance coverage and other privileges and benefits such as discounts at partner establishments.
“Petron has always been the Philippines’ leader in fuels and product innovations, while Uber as we all know changed and more importantly improved the transport service in the country,” Petron vice president for national sales Archie Gupalor said earlier.
For Chevron, the downstream oil industry in the Philippines allows the company to compete well in the market primarily with its quality global standards fuel and lubricant products.
“We also position ourselves in the market by offering competitive pricing for our products, quality service at the station and with the choicest partners that complement our brands, like with the Jollibee Group of Companies, Robinsons Rewards and Bosch,” Raissa Bautista, Chevron manager for policy and public affairs said.
The oil players try to outdo themselves with having the best and cleanest bathrooms. A Shell bathroom in one of its stations in Bohol has gained popularity due to its clean and unique design while PTT Philippines opened one of its luxurious restrooms called Restroom 20 located Lucena City.
Restroom 20 is a concept adopted from PTT Thailand. It is is a pay toilet that has first class amenities to ensure convenience of customers. It has a lounge where customers could relax and stay for a while especially if they are in a long travel.
“It’s really about offering the best service from gassing up, comfort room amenities, more choices of goods and services, giving service with smile and satisfaction to the customers,” Cesar Abaricia, Shell corporate communications and performance manager.
Not to be outdone, Petron also designed a comfort room “fit for a king” located in Tomas Morato, Quezon City.
“It’s been consistently competitive since the onset of the Oil Deregulation Law. Yes, product differentiation through service and value added products plus customer relation matters a lot to be more competitive,” said Eastern Petroleum chairman Fernando Martinez.
Phoenix Philippines, meanwhile, believes finding the best location to put up retail stations is another key factor in being competitive.
“Prices are the same as players match prices of each other. Then service is also key. But one most important thing is location,” Phoenix vice president for corporate affairs Raymond Zorrilla said.
Zorrilla said a prime location gets a better chance of drop in customers or increased in patronage.
“Normally, unless utmost brand loyalty has been established, consumers won’t go out of their way to load fuel,” he said.