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    Gulf Oil Makes a Splash with Wave

    Seven sites sport the value-oriented option, which will extend the petroleum marketer's reach southward and to the west.

    By Mehgan Belanger

    NEWTON, Mass. -- When Gulf Oil, petroleum marketer to more than 2,500 locations in the Northeast, developed and began executing a plan to modernize its brand and locations in 2007, it encountered a dilemma -- not all of the existing and prospective sites would be able to meet the site criteria needed to sport the new brand image.

    However, rather than turn away customers that do not meet site requirements, Gulf developed and launched Wave, a proprietary, value fuel brand and image package that is an alternative to the flagship.

    "Our marketing strategy has positioned Gulf as a premium brand. Some stations will not meet the new Gulf image," Gulf Oil President Ronald Sabia recently told CSNews Online. "As such, we wanted to have an image for those stations. We developed the Wave brand for that eventuality."

    Contrary to inaccurate reports by another industry Web site, seven sites currently sport the Wave package, and two are currently under construction.

    Along with its unbranded business, the Wave brand will allow Gulf Oil to stretch its reach beyond the Northeast. Sabia expects to expand south and into the Midwest, with plans to enter Virginia in the first quarter of 2009.

    In addition, the services provided to Gulf’s customers will grow, as part of the previously announced plan to consolidate resources and coordinate efforts between Gulf Oil and its sister company, Cumberland Farms, a leading convenience store operator in the Northeast.

    Services already in the works for its customers include a new consumer-facing loyalty and fuel price-lock program that Gulf’s Sabia expects to launch this year. To read more about that program, click here.

    "What we are focusing on now more than ever is really bringing in quality sites and being more than just a gas station," Rick Dery, chief marketing officer for Gulf, recently told CSNews Online. "We’ve adapted the concept of the gas station into a retail center, where a customer comes in for more than just a candy bar."

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