40% of consumers don’t know what tyres are on their car

Report: Low brand recognition means tyre market is ”ripe for disruption”

New data from Innocean Worldwide Europe suggests that low brand recognition levels in the European tyre markets mean challenger brands have an opportunity to step up and occupy increased market share. The research found that some 40 per cent of consumers  have no idea what make of tyres is  on their car – and almost half of buyers (46 per cent) spend less than five minutes in the decision making process before buying new ones. Therefore the study, which was published on 8 July, adds that because tyre brands are “failing to gain traction in the minds of consumers” this is a “golden opportunity for new challengers looking to shake up the market.”

Innocean’s research also identified that women in particular continue to be an “ignored” subset: the majority of tyre marketing campaigns are targeted strongly at men in spite of the fact that 41 per cent of tyre buyers are women, and more than 70 per cent of those women are not sure what make of tyre they will buy next.

Perhaps more interestingly, the research also found that manufacturers are failing to emphasise a major selling point of their product, with many campaigns treading the same well worn, familiar ground – resulting in very few communications that stand out.

Commenting on the findings, Glen Flaherty, chief strategy officer for Innocean Worldwide Europe, said: “In a market dominated by iconic brands – from Michelin and Pirelli to Goodyear and Dunlop – it is remarkable to see consumers so ambivalent about the tyres they buy. Years of inertia in the market mean there are huge opportunities for brands willing to be more targeted – and to focus on more than the ‘usual suspects’ of safety and performance. The tyre industry is a classic example of where old-school marketing has failed to keep pace with changing trends. In a world where many people would rather spend money on “a nice lunch” instead of more expensive tyres, this is the time for manufacturers to step up. They need to think beyond Formula One billboards and calendars full of scantily clad models, and they need to think much more carefully about the consumer journey in the replacement tyre  market. New players that take the trouble to do this can unlock significant growth opportunities.”

However, while Innocean whose key clients include motor manufacturers Hyundai and Kia, may have some clout with the OEMs, the one mistake they make is referring to Bridgestone as one such “challenger” – hardly an appropriate epithet for the world’s largest tyre maker. However, what they do rightly point out is that the research is published at a time when Bridgestone is revamping its “long-neglected US brand”, Firestone. What’s interesting is this could suggest that in addition to the myriad of up-and-coming as well as low-cost Far Eastern brands seeking to gain share in the European markets, established players are clearly looking to regain share lost to lower priced products.

Consumers are fickle when it comes to tyre brand loyalty

Innocean’s findings come from a 1,010 person study across from the biggest five European markets, as part of the company’s plans to continues its development beyond automobiles and into other sub-sectors and categories.

Other fascinating findings include that:

  • 43 per cent of consumers would rather spend their money on a nice lunch than on more expensive tyres
  • 68 per cent went on to say that the questionnaire was “the first time they had ever really thought about tyres”
  • From the outset, 39 per cent of people questioned didn’t even know what tyres were on their car right now
  • 35 per cent agreed they didn’t “know enough about tyres to choose between brands” which shows a lack of consumer education, and little perceived distinct differences between brands positioning
  • Only 32 per cent of the respondents answered that they knew what brand they would choose next time – which would suggest little loyalty and a huge opportunity to intercept people with the right message, in the right place, at the right time.
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