Preaching to the choir
As this issue of Tyres & Accessories goes to press, most of the team are en route to Essen for what has become the world’s largest tyre exhibition (look out for full coverage in our July issue and online at Tyrepress.com). Now that restrictions related to tyre labelling have been lifted, it is likely that this is the subject that everyone will be talking about. The leading manufacturers have already started positioning their companies in relation to one another and we can only imagine how they will position their respective pre- and post-labelling products compared with the rest of their group brands. Again this is something we are keeping a close eye on here at T&A.
The subject of labelling, however, and the abundance of questions still related to the rules and their application raises an important point about representation within the market. Here in the UK the government loves to talk about consultation, launching one every time they a) want to evaluate the benefits and impact of a particular proposal (a proper use of the word) and b) want to back-track on something that turned out to be a bad idea. This happened recently with a string of UK government proposals made during the recent budget. First there was the decision to undo the derided pasty tax, then it decided that capping tax relief on charitable giving wasn’t such a good idea generally under the guise of sending the proposal back to consultation.
While I would obviously prefer the first reason for consultation, the unified efforts of the wider garage industry to say no to MOT frequency changes are good example of how collaboration can turn “consultation” (whichever kind) into a force for good. And, to bring us back to labelling for a moment, there are those in the industry that would complain about their perceptions of a lack of consultation when it came to the drafting of this particular rule. With a review of the rules and applications of this due in the next couple of years, these people will no-doubt seek to communicate their views either through their trade associations or directly to Brussels.
This brings us onto another point, with the establishment of LETA (see separate article in our company news section) and rising membership in trade associations such as ITMA there is obviously increasing representation of the various views existing in the market. But one can’t help but wonder about how well these different voices are communicating and indeed collaborating with each other. Here in the UK the TIF offers the most broadly accepted voice of the industry, representing as it does the views of everyone in the business including tyre dealers, wholesalers, manufacturers, retreaders and recyclers. But when TyreSafe, for example, is virtually condemning the existence of the part worn trade (see this month’s tyre recycling and recovery feature for more on this) and when the 2012 TIF factbook uses partisan wording in a supposedly non partisan market breakdown chart, you can see evidence of a communication gap.
In the latter instance the TIF included the following wording alongside the very interesting information in a pie chart detailing the “premium, value and budget” segmentation of the market: “All new tyres do not offer the same performance. There is also a wide variation in price. Analysts divide the market into three categories: premium (offering the highest performance), value and budget (offering the lowest price).”
This apparent lack of intra-market communication and potential under-representation could also be seen at the recent TRA forum, where criticism of tyre retailers went completely unanswered (see elsewhere in the June issue for more). Without them such discussions featuring responsible companies complaining about irresponsible elements within the sector (that aren’t present) and retailers (that aren’t present) are in danger of being redundant examples of preaching to the choir. But whatever the issue and wherever it rises, the solution is the same: communication and collaboration achieves positive results – just as the MOT U-turn of recent months teaches us.