It's good to see Goodyear, North America's largest tire manufacturer, focusing much of its marketing efforts on independent tire dealers during 1994. Dealers contacted following Goodyear's annual dealer meeting in San Jose, Texas, Jan. 26-29, said they came away from the gathering with positive feelings about the company's long-term commitment to its independent dealers.
At the meeting, company officials sought to assure dealers that they would remain Goodyear's primary distribution channel, backing up their words with a pair of new marketing programs intended especially for independent tire dealerships and company-owned stores.
Relations between the tire maker and its dealers were strained over the last two years-mainly due to the Akron-based tire maker's attempt to broaden distribution of the Goodyear brand beyond its traditional dealer and company store channels.
In the process, Goodyear tires were introduced for the first time into outlets of Sears Roebuck and Co., Discount Tire Co. of Arizona, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Canadian Tire Corp.-leaving many Goodyear dealers to ponder their own futures in light of the tire manufacturer's actions.
But since departing the beaten path to sign up Sears in 1992, Goodyear has more than recovered the 3.2 percent decline in market share it faced two years ago-due at least in part to its broadened marketing effort.
Meanwhile, Goodyear is anticipating a whopping 33-percent increase in earnings when its 1993 financial results are announced Feb. 9.
This is especially impressive considering that only six of 13 North American tire makers and marketers expected to be profitable in 1993, according to TIRE BUSINESS' January survey. So the company's marketing strategy obviously has paid off-up to this point at least.
Now that Goodyear has its economic house in order, perhaps it can concentrate on helping the independent dealer whose purchases made it what it is today. Dealers will be watching Goodyear's next move carefully.