The PR Behind Gas Prices

June 17, 2015 Max Bergen

pr and gas prices

We’ve written before that an excellent technique for getting the attention of journalists and creating content that will do well on social media is tying your brand’s story to larger social conditions, events, or trends. For example, Father’s Day is this weekend, so you’re bound to see a bunch of stories connecting all sorts of things to dad. Today, we want to take a look at something that plays an omnipresent role in society – gas prices. For the PR pro who knows how, there are a vast number of ways to connect many industries and products to the ever important subject of the price of fuel. This serves as just one example of how to bring more interest to your stories by putting them in context with something that people care about very much.

Gas and Innovation

It might not be surprising that lower gas prices have put a dent in the sales of ultra-efficient vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. Luxury car and SUV sales, on the other hand, have benefited from declining prices. A less obvious part of the story is what impact, if any, lower gas prices are having on innovation related to vehicles and other devices that use alternative energy. Does investment in these new technology dry up when sales lag or do companies see past the immediate impact of the price at the pump?

Gas and Health

Believe it or not, researchers have found several links between the price of a gallon of gas and the public’s well-being. One study found that higher gas prices are associated with increased physical activity. Additional walking, fewer trips to restaurants, and less use of hired help for housework all contributed to reduced obesity during times of high gas prices. Another study documented that rising gasoline prices generate a decreased sense of well-being and implied a negative relationship between gasoline prices and self-reported life satisfaction.

Gas and Groceries

It turns out that the price of gas has several impacts on the shopping behavior of consumers. High gas prices have a negative effect on shopping frequency. Additionally, customers shift from grocery stores toward super-centers. They also choose bottom-tier brands and shy away from regular-priced national brands. This gas-driven behavior has a greater impact on grocery shopping than many other broad economic factors, such as the labor market, perhaps because the impact is more widespread and immediate.

Gas and Travel

Despite a small recent uptick, gas prices are still significantly lower than last year. It's not surprising then that, AAA predicted that 37.2 million Americans would journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 4.7 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year, and the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years.

As you can see, gas prices have an enormous impact on modern life. Few other market conditions reach our wallets in quite the same way. Behaviors change as prices rise and fall, making the cost of fuel a top of mind concern for consumers and all sorts of businesses. This is just one area where, as a PR pro, it is important to recognize the trends, make the connection and respond accordingly.

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