LAS VEGAS—It's going to be awhile before dealers can take full advantage of Goodyear's new G3 multi-brand tire portfolio. The tire maker plans to implement the new program slowly, dealer by dealer and market by market to make sure the brands will be available to the right channels.
Nor will every dealer take on all three brands.
"Under no circumstance will we open up the Goodyear brand, Kelly and associate brands, or the Dunlop brand to every dealer," said David Campbell, president of Goodyear Dunlop North America Ltd. in a panel discussion during Goodyear's annual dealer meeting, Jan. 18-21. "It will be market by market, case by case."
Goodyear unveiled the G3 program and lineup, featuring the Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly brands, last November during the Specialty Equipment Market Association/Tire Association of North America trade show in Las Vegas.
But the company waited to share specifics until its recent dealer meeting in the gambling mecca.
"As a Goodyear dealer, I've waited a long time for these brands," said John Turk of Conrad's Tire Service Inc. in Cleveland. "It's a multi-brand world. I'm excited."
Goodyear is positioning the brands to maximize market coverage and minimize overlap, and each has a distinctly different brand identity, said Marco Molinari, Goodyear's vice president of sales and marketing.
This approach meets the needs of today's consumers, who demand a choice in everything, from the products and services they buy to the media they watch, he said.
"In today's economy, choice is a certainty," he said in an address to dealers, "so we'd better give consumers a choice. If we don't, they will choose—and it will be the other guy."
Working with Kevin Lane Keller, a marketing professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Goodyear looked at how it should position its three G3 brands in relation to different consumer segments.
Each brand, the company found, matches up well with distinctly different types of tire buyers.
The Goodyear brand is for customers who prefer the best tire products on the market. These consumers are upscale, brand-loyal and do very little information searching.
Core Goodyear buyers range in age from 34 to 54 and are concerned with safety and technology. They are family-centered, take good care of loved ones, homes and vehicles, and have ample leisure time.
The Dunlop brand has a more youthful personality and is aimed at consumers who drive imported cars and desire "Euro-cool" brands and products. Dunlop tire buyers are younger in attitude and looking for alternatives.
Such buyers are college graduates, ages 24 to 34, and tend to be employed in executive or management positions and earn mid to high incomes.
They also like luxury items such as sporting goods and audio and electronic equipment.
Kelly-brand decision-makers are a "hard-working, do-it-yourself group." They often work as craftsmen or in the technical and repair field. Members of this group own their own homes and vehicles and take pride in maintaining their possessions.
The Kelly buyer enjoys more traditional recreation, such as camping, hunting and fishing, and as a result, they usually own trucks, vans and sport-utility vehicles.
"Against this framework, the three brands line up well," Mr. Molinari said, with Goodyear and Dunlop attracting more brand and outlet buyers, and Kelly, Kelly associate and custom brands attracting outlet- and price-conscious buyers."
While the G3 program is still under development, dealers eventually will receive promotional support and be able to order all brands at one time, with one delivery and one invoice.
Randall Clark of Dunn Tire Corp. in Buffalo, N.Y., recently signed on as one of Goodyear's first G3 dealers.
Already a large Kelly and Dunlop dealer, Dunn Tire will add the Goodyear line as a direct account. In addition, the dealership will maintain its affiliation with the Michelin Americas Small Tires Alliance program, which requires participants to buy a minimum of 51 percent of their tires from the company. At present, Goodyear's program stipulates no specific purchase requirements, said Jim Vogel, director of corporate accounts.
"The (G3) program has some obvious benefits, such as shipping Kelly and Goodyear together," Mr. Clark said.
He also likes the way Goodyear is rolling out G3 market by market and account by account. "I think that's the way they have to do it," he said.
But Mr. Clark isn't sold on the brand positioning of Kelly.
"We position Kelly as a mid- to upper-range tire. I think they'll have to listen to customers and see what really works," he said.