This is a subject that we get asked about all the time. As with any industry that deals with private label goods versus big name brands, buyers are typically hesitant to trust “the little guy” when the alternative is an established, reputable brand. Consumers typically know what they’re getting from a big brand, and they’re not sure a customized option is worth the money or trouble. However, in reality, private label fluids are just as good or better than the major brands in terms of cost, quality, and performance.
Here’s the breakdown of how they stack up against each other in these 3 key areas.
Cost of Private Label Fluids vs. Branded
In our experience, private label fluids are usually less expensive than most major brands. However, there are some highly customized mediums – particularly engine oils – where the opposite is true.
When private label fluids do exceed the price of branded fluids, it’s usually because they include extra additives and are specially formulated to your type of equipment. Even then, a few extra dollars upfront to use the optimal fluid could save you thousands in repair and replacement costs in the long run, not to mention decreased downtime costs.
Private Label Base Oil Quality vs. Branded
For buyers who haven't dealt with private label fluids before, they often think they're cheaper because the quality is worse. They know the big brands meet and exceed certain standards and regulations, but what about the little guy? Well, if you analyze the overall base oil quality of private label and branded fluids, you’ll find that there really isn’t a difference. That’s because private label companies and big brands often use the same industry standard base oils, such as Exxon-Mobil, and get their additives from the same suppliers, such as Lubrizol. It’s what they do with those additives and oils after the fact that separates the two. Which brings me to my last point…
Private Label Performance vs. Branded
Knowing that the base fluid quality is essentially the same for both private label and branded fluids, the biggest difference between the two revolves around their performance capabilities. With branded fluids, these often contain standard additive packages, as they don’t want their fluids to become so specialized that they actually don’t work with a variety of applications. That’s not to say branded fluids are lower quality; they just tend to use additives that benefit a wide variety of machines and operating environments, and that may or may not meet your machinery’s requirements.
On the other hand, sometimes your equipment requires a niche fluid with unique additives and performance requirements. This difference in performance is most notable when comparing metalworking fluids, as most major brands don’t dedicate as much research, time, or energy into this area as private label suppliers do, simply due to the scope of the market.
Lastly, if your equipment or operating environment requires specific performance characteristics that aren't readily available in an existing lubricant, private label fluid suppliers will work closely with a supplier who has custom blending capabilities, like U.S. Lubricants. Custom blenders develop the perfectly formulated fluid for your machines and operating environment—making sure to use additives that will maximize your machine and oil life. If you need a fluid that can stand up to high speeds and extra friction, for example, a custom blender can formulate one that protects against that, while also protecting against oxidation, sludge buildup, or any other issues you might have. The end result is a fluid formulation that’s specifically created for you, and provides much better results than just using the standard, off-the-shelf product.
At U.S. Lubricants, we offer a wide range of lubricant solutions, from big name brands, our own line of THRIVETM brand fluids, and custom blends. If a basic, off-the-shelf fluid works great for you, we’ll be happy to help you order that. If you’re seeking better protection and performance from your machines, however, we can make sure your equipment has the exact fluid it needs to reach your goals. Whatever type of fluid you might need, we can custom blend the perfect formulation to fit your machine’s needs and help maximize your machine and oil life.
For more information about our THRIVE branded fluids, or to learn more about the benefits of custom blends, please contact Tony Springer at TSpringer@uslube.com or by phone at (800) 490-4900 ext. 8823.