More motor oil buyers than ever before reported making their purchase at a special discount price, reports The NPD Group, a leading market research company. According to NPD’s Car Care Trac, an ongoing survey tracking consumers’ automotive purchases, in the 12 months ending November 2009, 22% of consumers surveyed reported they paid a special or sale price for motor oil, compared to just 16% two years prior.

The latest NPD automotive market research points out that, although consumers who bought on deal come in all “shapes and sizes,” there are some interesting distinctions.  For example, motor oil deal shoppers last year were slightly more likely to purchase full synthetic motor oil than other types of motor oil.  NPD’s Aftermarket Industry Monitor, which tracks point-of-sale data from over 18,000 auto parts stores, finds that full synthetic quart volume increased nearly 9% in the 12 months ending November 2009 versus year-ago. While total passenger car motor oil price per quart increased 11%, full synthetic price per quart was only up 4%, perhaps reflecting promotional discounts.

NPD’s research also reveals motor oil category discounts seemed to be an effective purchase behavior driver. Eighty-one percent who bought motor oil on deal said they specifically went to the store for that motor oil purchase. In addition, those shoppers were more likely to say they would have made no purchase if their preferred brand were not available (15% compared to 11%). These shoppers were five times as likely to say they chose the brand purchased based on an advertisement. Deal shoppers are also likely to be higher volume purchasers – 78% who bought on deal reported buying five quarts or more, compared to only 53% who paid regular price.

“Clearly consumers are looking for deals and offering a deal can increase traffic at retail, encourage trial, or increase basket size,” says David Portalatin, industry analyst for NPD’s automotive aftermarket market research “Manufacturers of automotive products need to understand the particular drivers of purchase behavior in their categories and for its brands to determine whether to offer a deal and how effective dealing might be. Collaborating with retail partners to evaluate the dynamics of each brand and category, manufacturers can craft effective promotions that appeal to their consumers’ sense of value and deliver positive results.”

“Car Care Trac,” and “Aftermarket Industry Monitor,” conducted by The NPD Group, February 23, 2010.  Website: www.npd.com.