LAS VEGAS—Reaffirming its commitment to the independent tire dealer, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has rolled out a multibrand strategy designed to give dealers competitive offerings at all price levels. In a marketplace where many tire makers have placed brands along good-better-best pricing tiers, Cooper is positioning Pirelli as its premium brand, with Cooper and Avon as mid-range brands.
Associate brands Dean, Dominator, Starfire and Roadmaster will be marketed in the value range, with Mastercraft falling into either the middle or value tier, said Mark Armstrong, Cooper vice president of sales.
The new line-up features a minimum of requirements for dealers, Mr. Armstrong said. Instead of requiring dealers to commit a percentage of their total business to Cooper brands, Cooper is taking an open-handed approach and inviting dealers "to give us a chance," he said.
The tire maker is giving its dealers the flexibility to mix and market its products as they see fit, with territorial protection for the value brands, Mr. Armstrong said. The program comes with no restrictions or quotas.
"Cooper's philosophy has always been that when we're given a chance to do business with a customer, we'll earn the business with our customer over time," he said. "If we do a good job, we'll get our fair share. And consequently, we feel the same philosophy will work here."
The strategy also gives Cooper a competitive package it didn't have prior to its alliance with Pirelli S.p.A. In the past, Cooper had committed its Cooper brand to independent dealers, leaving it without a middle-tier brand to offer large retailers, Mr. Armstrong said.
Similarly, Pirelli Tire North America only had a premium brand, but no mid-level offering to support it, he said. The new strategy eliminates brand-packaging shortcomings for both tire makers and gives the Pirelli brand increased marketing and customer service support.
Cooper, which is based in Findlay, Ohio, unveiled its multibrand program Nov. 2 at the International Tire Expo/Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas. Response from dealers has been favorable so far, Mr. Armstrong said.
Cooper will unveil more details of its pricing for all the brands in January, he said.
The program doesn't have a name, but Cooper doesn't believe it needs one, a spokeswoman said. The company hopes its new strategy, marketing support, customer service and commitment to meeting fill rates will increase its business among independent dealers.
"Independent tire dealers as a group, I think, do not like to be dictated to," Mr. Armstrong said. "They like to make their own choices."