Michelin has seized the opportunity in North America
Times have changed dramatically in the North American tyre industry. Nowadays there is no such thing as a one-brand dealer. The seemingly inexorable way to ever more private brands ceased with Firestone’s tyre recall. Now tyres have penetrated more than before into the consciousness of the consumers. One expected a “flight to quality”, which is a little misleading, because the house brands manufactured by large tyre companies do not have quality deficiency. The hoped for trend is directed to brands, toward brand image, and on brand contents. With this we arrive automatically at Michelin. No tyre manufacturer, in economically good as well as bad times, did as much for the structure of its tire brand as Michelin. Michelin was not the inventor of the steel-belted radial tyre, but the French tyre maker marketed it world-wide with a persistence which is worth admiration. There is no alternative to the steel-belted radial tyre. The French did not invent the multi-brand strategy, either. But they filled this operation with content and brought it into the market in such a way that an alternative was impossible. Nevertheless, Michelin puts its stamp on the markets of this world and in particular on the American market in a completely unmistakable form when it comes to multi-brand strategy.
Las Vegas is for Michelin a good and important meeting place, but the events and meetings outside of the fair hold themselves within clearly smaller frameworks than, for example, those of Bridgestone/Firestone. Michelin has attained clear advantages in the last three years in the American market. Was Michelin now the winner, or were Bridgestone (Firestone recall) and Goodyear (continuous large company losses) only the losers? One would underestimate the French if one would attribute their advances only to the weaknesses of the competitors. Anyone who analyses the American market can come to the conclusion, that the French would have asserted themselves in any case, although perhaps not as quickly. Anyhow, in North America they do ride on a wave of success, although this market has not yet recovered completely from the dramatic break-downs of “9/11”.