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    Texaco's Brand Power Sells Fuel

    The company is number one despite higher gasoline prices.

    NEW YORK -- Many gasoline marketers today keep prices consistent with competitors, or even drop lower to succeed. But Texaco is number one this year despite prices set at an average of two cents per gallon above direct competition, according to a recently released Retail Gasoline Report by the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS).

    Texaco was able to get more dollars at the pump than most brands in many of its key markets, even with the hundreds of Texaco stations rebranded as shell in recent months, the report said.

    The company's ability to sell gasoline at higher prices is a major indicator of brand power, and the new OPIS report uses this barometer to rank the relative brand strength of 45 competitors in the analysis. The report rolls up price differentials for more than 360 markets across the United States on a weighted basis and ranks each competitor by its overall price differential over the past 32 months. The brands are also ranked in eight regions and each brand's monthly performance is charted over the same timeframe.

    These findings come at an interesting time in Texaco's history. Shell Oil Products U.S., which owns the rights to the Texaco retail brand after a 2001 deal with ChevronTexaco Inc., is undergoing a massive rebranding effort nationwide to replace the popular Texaco star and replace it with a new Shell retailing concept.

    In a previous interview with Convenience Store News Russell Caplan, vice president of Houston-based Shell Oil Products, said rebranding Texaco stations was a difficult decision, but the oil company was "very confident in the brand awareness Shell also enjoys in the United States."

    The OPIS report is available online at www.opisnet.com, and includes more than 50 pages of charts and graphs to depict specific gasoline prices and differentials in eight key regions from January 2001 through August 2003.

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