Premium Tyre Message Must Permeate Supply Chain: Rickard
In what Tyre Wholesalers Group chair, Ashley Croft called, “a clear challenge to the tyre industry”, Jim Rickard – managing director of Michelin Tyre plc – called on the members of the TWG to match the “sophistication…of the manufacturers within the whole supply chain”. Speaking at the Group’s Annual Lunch in Droitwich Spa, Rickard expressed uncertainty about the way information about tyres is transmitted to customers: “I’m not sure the message about performance characteristics gets through at the point of sale.” He argued that new legislation – exemplified by forthcoming tyre labelling laws governing noise, wet grip etc – was making visible to the consumer proof of a tyre’s superior characteristics over rival brands, thus allowing components of the supply chain to justify to customers the relative cost of one product to another.
Rickard was at pains to point out, “We will only profit from this if the message gets through the whole supply chain”, further supporting his argument with car manufacturers’ brochures, which are currently stressing the benefits of lower emissions wherever possible. As Michelin could certainly be said to be at the forefront of the push to widen the knowledge of the benefits of fitting certain tyres, it was unsurprising that Rickard should argue that the same nuanced sales and marketing principles could be applied to tyres. To illustrate his point, he drew an analogy with the way milk is sold in larger supermarkets; while ten years ago, milk was relatively unbranded, there are now premium-priced options available in addition to those bottles carrying only the supermarket’s name. These premium options justify their higher price tags through labels that advertise additional benefits, such as mineral contents or specialised varieties, and Rickard naturally sees the potential to market similar benefits of premium tyres. The difference, he says, is that tyres by necessity have a dealer or fitter present at point of sale. Therefore there is a great opportunity for the employee – trusted by the customer – to talk about the performance characteristics of each tyre.
In addition to this, Rickard began his speech by expressing pleasure that the chairmanship of the Tyre Industry Federation had passed to Peter Gaster, chief executive of wholesaler Kings Road Tyres Group; Rickard said he believes it is important for the TIF that it is not “seen as the manufacturers plus the rest”, and that Gaster’s appointment showed the integration of wholesalers and retailers, amongst others, was very important in the promotion of tyres and their benefits to all road-users.