A recent conversation with a car salesman included a discussion about gasoline prices.
He noted Americans now seem to be trained to accept higher prices at the pump. The only time you hear complaints about these rising rates is when the oil companies push too far too quickly.
Jump those costs 50 cents per gallon and everyone starts to cackle. Raise it ten or 15 cents and everyone seems to follow along. But the bottom line is we are all paying 40 per cent more for gasoline than we did three years ago, 50 per cent more than five years ago and 145 per cent more than ten years ago.
The oil companies have done a brilliant job of “ping-ponging” the American public. Take prices way up. Wait for noise levels to rise. Then bring them back down, but not all the way down. After a week or two at $3.50 per gallon, $2.95 doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Forget the fact that you were paying $2.60 per gallon before the big increase.
These oil barons have also done a superb job of managing consumer perceptions about an oil “crisis”. Don’t blame us. Blame it on OPEC. Blame on the government. Blame it on the rising costs of finding oil. Blame it all on farmers and Ethanol additives.
Blame it all on everyone but them.
So who’s to blame for those $10 to $20 billion profits the oil companies generate on an annual basis? That’s one subject they aren’t complaining about.
If a retailer raises their prices on shirts, shoppers have a choice. They can wait for a sale, go to another store and look for less expensive clothing, or not buy the article at all.
In the gasoline monopoly game Americans don’t really have a choice. Since all service stations and convenience stores charge basically the same price you either pay or stay home. Yes, you can buy automobiles that give a little better mileage, make a few less trips, carpool with your neighbor or friend, but in reality the oil companies will just raise their price to make-up the difference.
In some ways working in the oil industry represents the ideal situation for a marketing or public relations person. No worry about having to build demand for a product or service. No worry about convincing someone your product is better than the next guy’s. No need for special events, viral marketing, blogging, white papers and community outreach. Wait a minute, other than for an occasional crises there’s no need for people like us at all!