LAS VEGAS—Add-ons are practically like money in the bank, according to the countless sellers of items peripheral to the actual sale of a tire. And some tire dealers will acknowledge that's where their greatest profit potential lies.
A company that makes and markets a family of one-step tire-and wheel-cleaning products is suggesting dealers consider offering such merchandise either as add-ons or outright giveaways to boost profits while helping customers keep their tires black.
Irvine, Calif.-based No Touch North America (NTNA), which claims it originated the tire foam-type product now mimicked by several other marketers, says it took over the No. 1 position in that product segment about a year and a half ago from its main competitor, Armor All, now owned by the Clorox Co.
Though Denis A. Halton, NTNA president since 1994, believes add-ons are a relatively untapped revenue enhancer, he admitted his company currently derives less than 5 percent in sales via tire dealerships.
So the firm has begun an experimental marketing push through several tire shops in Southern California with an eye toward expanding that sales base. Mr. Halton views his company's products as ``naturals for tire dealers,'' and used the analogy of a store that sells shoes, then tries to peddle a can of polish to go with them.
``Even if a consumer doesn't buy our product from a tire store after making an expensive tire purchase, maybe the tire dealer should give them a can'' as a customer-service perk, he suggested.
No Touch products are sold coast to coast, mostly through large automotive chains, such as Pep Boys, to reach what he called the ``hard-core, do-it-yourself enthusiasts.'' NTNA has been less successful marketing through mass merchandisers, Mr. Halton admitted, due to the premium price of No Touch products, as well as competition from companies with ``better brand recognition,'' including Armor All, STP and Turtle Wax.
To reinforce its market share, NTNA's Japanese parent, Taiho Industries, decided about two years ago to expand its so-called ``clean and green'' product line to include glass-care items and widen its wheel- and tire-care lineup.
The company prides itself on being environmentally responsible, and Mr. Halton, 55, is an outspoken member of the Sierra Club.
``It's just good business not to rape the environment,'' Mr. Halton said. ``As chemicals get stronger and more potent, there is a greater and greater responsibility on manufacturers.''
Long-term, that approach not only makes good environmental sense, he said, but it might also make good business sense, even though the public often is apathetic about the environmental impact of vehicle-related products.