I got an email from a friend the other day. You know the kind … the pass-it-to-10-people chain-mail powerpoint presentation kind. This one’s plight was simple: Stop buying gas at selected gas stations to spark a price war that would push the price of gas down.
In Canada, PetroCan and Shell are a couple of big players. They’re named in the email. I know a lot of you come to Zoomstart from the US, the UK and Australia among other countries. You know who the targets would be in your corner of the bright blue planet better than I would.
The whole idea behind this email is to pick a major gas company and stop buying gas from them. And just them. And of course, spread the word. Theoretically, they would then lower the price of gas to bring people back, and all the other gas stations would have to also lower their prices to compete.
And then everybody gets cheaper gas. Happily ever after.
No, not really. It’s a grand idea. It’s got buzz. And it’s an issue that strikes people because we’ve all gone to the pump, filled up, and swore at how it cost us 10 or 20 bucks more than the previous fill-up.
But from a business perspective, it’s an idea with a lot of holes:
- Getting enough people on board to put the squeeze on. Very tough to do.
- We have to wait out the target companies while all the other gas companies hose us by raising their prices.
- They’d just sell their gas to the companies we were buying from because the demand is not going away, it’s just going elsewhere.
The list goes on.
Grass roots ideas can work. But they have to be backed up by solid fundamentals or else they just fizzle and die. Just because something has buzz, doesn’t mean it’s a solid idea. It just means that more people are going to hear about it.
If you really want to bring the price of gas down, buy less. Ride your bike. Walk. Buy a pogo stick. It’s not a billion dollar take-down, but you’ll save a couple bucks, get some exercise, and who knows …
It just might catch on.