FRANKFURT, Germany-Bridgestone may have floated to the top of this year's global Top 50 listings, but Michelin held onto its status as the most popular tire brand around the world-staying just ahead of Goodyear for the second straight year. Goodyear challenges Michelin regularly for the branded-sales lead because it derives a greater share of its overall tire sales from the Goodyear brand-about 85 percent. This compares to less than 80 percent in Michelin's case.
Goodyear's higher brand concentration is ironic since its Kelly-Springfield Tire unit is the world's largest maker of private brand tires.
Goodyear's branded sales total also includes estimates for its share of sales resulting from its 50-50 joint ventures in Australia/New Zealand and Japan.
Were the franc-dollar exchange rate a few percentage points different, Goodyear might have claimed the top spot, as in 1993.
Bridgestone lies a solid third, although its gain on both Michelin and Goodyear last year was in large part due to the strength of the yen vs. the dollar in 1995.
The Bridgestone brand represents about 65 percent of the company's global tire sales, and the Firestone brand roughly one-third, with the remainder being associate and private brands.
Firestone's ranking by brand, fifth largest overall, also takes into account sales by Firestone affiliates and licensees in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Ironically, Michelin's new affiliate in The Philippines, MSF Tire, is making Firestone-brand tires for that market for an undetermined period until it can renovate the ex-Philtread Tire plant to make Siam-and Michelin-brand tires.
Fourth largest is the Dunlop brand, domain primarily of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, but also including the sales revenue of Dunlop affiliates and licensees in Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Malaysia, and United Kingdom.
Unresolved at the moment appears to be the status of rights to the Dunlop brand in Latin America after the purchase of Caribbean Tire in Trinidad-Tobago by Carlisle Tire of the U.S. The company previously was part of BTR-Dunlop and still licensed use of the Dunlop name after it was sold to local investors a few years ago.
Yokohama has now edged ahead of Pirelli after pulling even in the 1994 ranking. Yokohama's gain is partly laid to currency changes, but also to lower sales of the Pirelli brand due to the divestiture of the firm's U.S. farm tire business.
Continental, General Tire and Toyo round out the top 10 brand ranking, with the Uniroyal brand-marketed in the Americas by Michelin and under license in Europe by Continental-nearly on par with Toyo.
These rankings-extrapolated from company data, questionnaires, and market analyses-reflect the brand sales estimates released recently by Financial World magazine in its annual brand strength analysis.
In its evaluation, based on a formula involving sales, profitability, influence of generic products, and a ``brand strength multiple,'' the magazine placed Michelin first, marginally ahead of Goodyear, followed by Bridgestone, Firestone, Pirelli, Cooper and Continental.