TyreReviews website suggests need for increased nuance in tyre categorisation
TyreReviews website is suggesting “an easier, more consistent” way to help drivers select the tyre best suited to their needs: a vastly increased number of categories into which tyre types could be sorted. With the wide range of tyres on the market currently describing themselves as “high performance”, for example, the website’s designer and administrator Jonathan Benson believes that some more levels of differentiation could benefit the consumer, in addition to his own website, on which the consumer-reviewed tyres are grouped into 37 unique categories.
The reason for this is that while tyres have for a long time been placed into a handful of simply defined groups – “fine for comparing a handful of tyres across a single brand” – the experience of running a website that could sort “nearly 1,000 tyres over 43 brands”, the lack of specificity confuses the issue, grouping together tyres that are far apart in terms of their most apposite use. Benson “spent the last few months” talking with four of the world’s seven biggest tyre manufacturers to list tyre categories that make sense. While each manufacturer “agreed something needs to be done, they all have their own way of looking at it,” he explains.
“Commercially I see it as an opportunity for the manufacturers to up-sell within their own brand. [Michelin’s]Pilot Sport 3 and Pilot Super Sport make a good example: most outlets would categorise them both as ultra high performance tyres, which could leave the consumer confused about the performance differences. With the new five-tier performance breakdown (Trackday and Competition > Extreme Performance > Max Performance > Ultra High Performance > High Performance) and two for touring tyres (Premium Touring > Touring) it should allow the performance differences of different levels of tyre to become clear.”
This appears to make sense, but does it make sense to emphasise the differences in tyre performance in a notoriously price-conscious market such as the UK? “If a customer just wants to pay a little as possible,” Benson replied, “then they will fall down the brand classification and most likely not be interested in any sort of tyre categorisation. If they do look into the classification system they will see no budget brands are classified above Touring or Ultra High Performance, which should indicate there’s more available from a tyre.
“This system isn’t meant to offer the same information as the tyre-labelling law; it is more a tool to help people explore the differences in the many levels of tyres that are now being produced. It will probably work best in an e-Commerce environment where it will allow a user to quickly drill down to find the right tyre.” Perhaps this is the key to Benson’s argument – with the increasing number of people used to shopping around on the internet, there appears to be an opportunity to push comparisons of tyre characteristics into public view more, especially with the increased ease of access to consumer reviews and performance information that most Internet shopping sites offer customers.