Interview with Mansi Tripathy, CMO, Shell
Lubricants India; Inputs: Akhil Jha (AJ), VP –Technical, Shell Lubricants
India; Karlo Tugaff (KT), Global Associate Brand Manager – Shell Advance, Shell
Global Commercial; Vinod Pillai (VP), Cluster Brand Manager, Shell Lubricants
Report & Photography: Joshua David
What does a company like Shell expect from
a show of this kind in terms of reaching out to the participants, visitors,
etc.? How are you able to convince a bunch of boisterous boys and girls to like
or buy a certain kind of lubricant?
our primary objective to take part in an event like this is to be where a
consumer is in terms of when they are exhibiting their passion points and are
totally into the game. What we are finding is that it is very hard to get
through to this side of the consumers through any other conventional media.
They don’t read newspapers too often and they don’t watch too much of TV maybe engage
just a little bit through digital media.
It is very hard to catch them, so when they are into the mode and mood
of doing things, we felt that it would be best for us to be associated at those
moments. That is why we got associated with this event. We don’t truly believe
in hard selling, rather we believe in educating and telling our story on the
kind of research and money which has gone into making our products and the kind
of technical stories we have. We try and ensure that they try our product
because we are so convinced that the moment anyone tries our product, they will
fall in love with the product and the benefits it offers. We have enough data
that once the consumer uses a shell product, it is a 100 pc conversion after
that. So the real trick is to get them to try it and we use these kinds of
events to build our awareness and engage a little bit longer to tell our story
to them and tell them why to use our product.
Coming to Shell Advanced Ultra that is
being specifically launched here, technically speaking, how superior is this oil?
Can this be used across the entire spectrum of two-wheelers or is it meant for
high performance bikes only?
superiority of this particular product is linked to two things. One is the
active cleansing technology which it has and the pure plus technology. The pure
plus technology is a patented shell technology which is based on gas to liquid
conversion. So Shell is the only company anywhere in the world in the
lubricants industry which has got this base oil. It comes from natural gas
converting from pure base oil which has been categorized as a group 3+ plus
base oil. It is the purest form of base oil. It cleanses your engine as it goes
along and because of that it improves the power, so from the first time you put
the oil into your engine till the 6000km mark, you use it and the power does
not deteriorates as it would in other products. It improves the overall oil
change interval which is traditionally from 2000 to 3000 km but with this
product you can go up to 6000 km. It also improves the fuel efficiency of
vehicles. You get almost 5 km extra for every litre of petrol. That is where
this technology which has been developed over the last 40 years is now coming
to play in the Ultra product. From that perspective it is unique and going into
the ultra part of our business it can be used across the range of bikes. While
in the superbikes or power bikes this will really boost power and that is the
key need of the consumer. There are other benefits like a longer ODI (Oil Drain
Interval), fuel efficiency, etc which can go across the spectrum. From a payout
perspective of a consumer, even if it costing slightly more, just by the fact
that you don’t need to replace it from twice of what you traditionally do and
for fuel efficiency it is great value for money.
What drove Shell to create this product?
Did you foresee a certain demand for this in this country especially with the
changing dynamics in the two wheeler industry?
look at the entire 110 years of Shell’s history it has been a pioneer in its own
way. Shell was the first company to introduce the cleansing technology way back
in 1968 and then it was the first one to come up with the new fuel efficiency
norms. It was also the first one to achieve fuel efficiency. If you look at
shells entire history it has been pioneering the next thresh hold. In the
lubricants industry the next threshold is what comes after group 3 base oils. There
is so much of natural gas available, we were not able to put it to use and that
was the underlined factor to think through. Where do we take these two points –
there is so much of natural gas not getting used and after base 3 oils what do
we do next? I think both these points converged and then scientists started
this work around 40 years back in a small lab in Amsterdam. They started
experimenting and when it got some success with the hydrocarbon chains they put
it to some commercial tests in Malaysia. Then it was commercially manufactured from
the plant built in Qatar – the pearl project which has a huge capacity now and is
I am sure a lot of R&D work has gone
into making this oil, can you throw some light on it? Also, what kind of tests
has this oil been put through and what were the results?
have been a lot of tests on the technology itself. In Thailand there was an
extensive field trial done over 13,000 km with regular checks in between on the
engine health and the efficiency in terms of the performance. As a result we
have got three big claims – the 5 km increase in efficiency per litre, the ODI
from 3000km to 6000km and no dip in power as it goes through the entire cycle.
These three claims come directly from the extensive field trial tests done on
AJ – We have done an
APS sequence 3G test, which is for oxidation and deposit control test. We have
also done a test on volatility. A typical group 3 oil has a volatility of
around 13-15 pc where as the advanced ultra with pure plus the volatility is
around 10 pc. So you are getting oil which evaporates slower by around 1-3 pc.
You don’t have to top up oil, so that also reduces oil consumption. The oil
stays in grade for the entire cycle and viscosity is nearly stable throughout
the drain period thus increasing the drain interval period. The oil is also
lighter and provides much better protection. A normal mineral oil will form
deposits and the oil will form a layer on top of the deposit. So basically they
don’t offer lubrication and protection. In this case the oil will actually
clean up the deposit and form a film on the clean parts. We have also done some
tests on measuring the piston cleanliness by merit rating. So we have seen the
merit rating on piston cleanliness increase by 0.8 which is quite significant.
Most super bikes out there heat up to the
extent of burning your thighs! Will this oil be able to effect a noticeable
change in keeping temperatures of the engine under control?
AJ –The engine heats
up because the oil degrades and it does not give you the lubrication needed. Therefore
the direct metal to metal contact increases friction and that results in
frictional heat. So if the oil is able to lubricate well, stays in grain and
keeps metal parts separated, then it will lower the frictional heat. If oil
stays thinner it will be able to cool down better. The normal oil gets thick
because of oxidization and thermal degradation, so it is not able to cool and
transfer the heat from the heating area like pistons and liner back to the
crank case. If you watch some of our videos, we have done some perception and
experience trials in Thailand. We had 26 bikes which ran for 13,000 km and it
was more like a blind trial. So people did not know it was pure plus and
advance ultra product in their engine. They felt that the engine was lighter,
one of the comments in the video was that the engine felt lighter and smoother,
they felt power in their hands and the other observation was that the gear
shift is very smooth, that they didn’t have to change gears as many times. So if
you see these experiential benefits are coming from very technical and tangible
tests. One of the things is that the engine doesn’t over heat and it will not
lead to so much of knocking inside. We haven’t measured it so it is more by
experience and by technical reasoning behind it.
What kind of a market response are you
expecting from this new oil? And what kind of a response have you got so far
from promotion campaigns?
expecting that the Shell Ultra gets to at least 25 pc of the salience of our
entire sales. Because we don’t expect just the power segment or the super bikes
segment to buy it, rather a larger spectrum of passionate enthusiasts who are
present irrespective of which kind of bike they use and who really want to take
care of their bikes. So we are really targeting that consumer irrespective of
the kind of bike the person might be using. The testimony of this one is that
India is the third market in which it has been launched and in the other two
markets there is already a good amount of success coming about. We have
launched a similar technology around Helix which is the car brand for us. We
are getting some very good results behind it and actual consumer verbatim say that
the product is working really hard for them. We are really confident that
because of the product performance and the success which the technology has
already got, that we will be able to get the same success here. Initial
promotion was launched just yesterday, but even between the kind of responses
which we got from our stall and just being with the media, I think people have
been looking for the next revolution. It is not an evolution that you have a
little bit of additive here and a change in viscosity there. This is a true
revolution in the market and it is not often in this industry that a revolution
happens. It took 40 years to create this technology, so it is not just another
technology. I think people have an appreciation for the kind of work which has
gone behind it and the response we are getting is just that. People are saying
thank God it is here, they were actually looking for something better, more
superior or costlier than what they can get their hands on because they really
want to put their best in their bikes.
VP - We
got a lot of responses from the influencers segment. A lot of workshop
mechanics like the bigger mechanics who visited the event, even they have shown
a lot of interest for this kind of product as they want to be at the cutting
edge of technology and what better can they offer to their customers which can
help them increase their business. We got tremendous inquires from the
influencers as well, who want to use this product. They wanted to know the
technical specifications and what they are putting in their engine. We feel the
influencers are a key segment for us as they are also instrumental in
converting modest customers. No matter how passionate you are about your bike,
you also rely a lot on what your influencer talks about your bike as he is the
so called doctor of the engine. So we are very happy to see the interest
generated from them as well.
Will this oil be used by motorsports
outfits as it is or do they use enhanced products?
being used in the Shell Asia Talent Cup which is a racing series designed for
13 to 19 year olds specifically in Asia. It is being used there in
collaboration with Honda racing and it is being tested now with Ducati racing.
So the first Moto GP will be in Losail International Circuit in Qatar and hopefully
we will have some good results there. For the Asia Talent Cup the same oil
which is being offered to customers will be used but not yet for the Moto GP.
In India there are a large number of biking
communities, will your company be directly addressing them too to generate
interest among these set of users? How do you intend on doing that?
a very important insight for this segment. People like to be in communities and
they like the concept of brotherhood when they go out on their bikes. So what
we are trying to do to tap that opportunity is two things -- one on the digital
media, what we realised is that before they plan their trips, they figure out
where they want to rest, eat, fill and other such information is generated at
that moment when long weekends and holidays coming up. We are trying to tap
their path and as to how they plan their journey, so as they seek that
information we are present at those moments to help them plan their journey
much better. We are tying up with a couple of websites who are actually helping
them and ensuring that when they are in that search we also provide them with
tips on road safety, when to change oil, how to change oil, problems which they
can face in their engine and be there for them. So irrespective of where they
are in the country we are a part of that digital search, we are helping them
along the way and that is all about engagement to my mind. The second route
which we are evaluating is that for some of these big communities and big
clubs, how we can further insert our selves through events like IBW which is a
good example. We are sponsoring it for the first time and we will be closely
evaluating it in terms of how it will serve the purpose and then see how we can
expand that property. Last but not the least for these big influencers who are
leading some of these communities, you want to be directly in touch with them
and share our stories so that they can influence their communities better. So
those are the three concrete things we are doing at this stage and I think
there is a lot to learn and understand their psyche and what drives them and
our whole endeavor is to help and not just sell our products.
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