By: Jenniffer Hutto | Category Manager

The average price of gas in the United States averaged $2.60 per gallon in 2019.
• Considerable drop from the last decade when it peaked at $3.62 per gallon in 2012.
• The average age of vehicles on the road today hit 11.8 years in June of 2019.1
• Extended life of a vehicle hovered between 9.4-10.3 years 2 decades ago.
• Owners seeking automotive items that extend the life of their vehicle and maintain appearance.

Viscosity can best be described as the resistance of energy being used to push the oil through the object. In order to better understand, let us de-code a motor oil as an example.

5W-20 vs 0W-20
• 5W refers to the lubricant’s (motor oil’s) ability to flow through the engine in cold temperatures
• 20 refers to the vehicle’s ability to flow in normal temperature range
The “Automotive Sub-Categories” chart outlines the automotive dollar share by sub-category for McLane 2019. Motor oil currently represents 38% (-2%) of share, followed by additives at 23% (+3%), anti-freeze (16%), accessories (13%) and wash (10%) which have remained consistent.

Motor oil can be segmented into four basic varieties: Synthetic oil, synthetic blend, high mileage and conventional oil.

The viscosities of motor oil continue to evolve. This year we were introduced to 0W20. Zero weight essentially offers the best lubrication under various temperature ranges. This improves the overall fuel economy and reduces fuel emissions. Synthetics and high mileage have become need states in every planogram.

With the average age of a vehicle being 11.8 years, consumers are looking for ways to help maintain their efficiency. Having a strong representation in our category is a must, as consumers are looking for items to improve gas mileage and clean out various parts of the engine. STP and Gumout are our top two national additives, while Road-Tech offers a comparable private label alternative. Essential items are automatic transmission fluid (ATF), 2 cycle, fuel system cleaner, fuel injector & carburetor treatment, fuel injector cleaner, octane booster, gas treatment, power steering fluid, brake fluid and stabilizer treatment.

BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is one of the key elements of the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) process used by diesel engine builders to meet EPA 2010 regulations. When injected into the exhaust stream, Diesel Exhaust Fluid vaporizes, leaving ammonia molecules that are en route to the catalytic converter; once there, it converts NOx molecules into harmless nitrogen and water vapor — making for cleaner emissions.5 All retailers should include DEF in their sets. The most popular size remains 2.5 gallon. If space permits, a floor stand would allow the retailer to promote the item.

Windshield wash is a strong selling item year-round. Why is it so important? Windshield wash ingredients work together to provide a clean, streak-free windshield. If the washer fluid pump does not contain fluid, it can corrode, leak and stop working. Throughout the winter, we see a large increase in -20 which has added ingredients to keep the product from freezing. During the summer, we recommend using bug wash. This helps prevent grime and bug residue. It also helps create a barrier to help prevent residue from building up. Both Peak 50/50 and Road-Tech 50/50 Antifreeze Gel are great anti-freeze items that are essential to your store assortment.

Air fresheners remain one of the highest velocity items in the set. The air freshener category consists of three segments: paper, vent clip and novelty. Though all contribute to the category, the depth of each segment varies based on the size of the space dedicated to this category. Little Trees products continue to be our top selling items. Black ice and new car remain the undisputed top flavor profiles. Top vent clips are Refresh and Febreze.

All sets should include emergency care items including gas cans, jumper cables, tire repair items, quick starting fluid, WD-40, funnel, tire gauge, duct tape, electrical tape, heavy duty glue, flashlights and batteries.

The automotive section is an important category for retailers. Product assortment should be reviewed twice annually to update item selection and include innovation. Consumers are increasingly on-the-go, and they continue to look for better options for their family and retailers that fill their needs. Customer retention is more important now than ever since there is so much channel blurring. Offering a strong basic assortment across the category helps drive traffic into the store and increase customer loyalty.