AKRON (May 9, 2002)—Six months into a three-year plan to double the market share of its Dunlop brand in North America, the company has made significant progress in adding new points of purchase in the program's initial markets, officials said May 2 during a press briefing in Akron.
Tangible growth occurred in the form of 200-300 dealers carrying the Dunlop brand.
“We've definitely made good progress vs. the previous first quarter,” said Dennis Teed, general market manager for the Dunlop brand. “There's been positive growth of the brand in 2002 that indicates we're making good progress towards our overall previous goal of doubling our market share. Each month continues to show progress toward that.”
Mr. Teed had no specific numbers to support the comparison between first quarters, but did say that as many as 300 dealers who did not previously have direct Dunlop accounts have signed on. He said a “significant number” of independent dealers, as well as Goodyear and Kelly brand dealers, have opted to add the Dunlop brand to their portfolios.
“If they're already a Goodyear dealer or Kelly, or both, the Dunlop brand can come on the same truck,” Mr. Teed said. “That's a new component we haven't had in the plan and that's part of the activation.”
Goodyear announced its aggressive goal for Dunlop last November during its 2001 dealer conference in Las Vegas. Calling the brand's potential “huge,” Goodyear said it planned to double Dunlop's market share over 36 months by increasing the number of retail points that distribute the tires. At the time, it had targeted 50 major metro markets and said the expansion would take place one market at a time starting with Atlanta.
Dunlop market share was 3 percent for passenger tires and 2 percent for light truck tires through 2001, according to Tire Business estimates. Now well into the program, Goodyear has amended its initial number to 32 markets, Mr. Teed said.
Where Dunlop is concerned, Goodyear is focusing on markets with at least a million potential customers, he explained. That will remain the focus through 2002.
“We looked at the top 32 markets and identified opportunities within those markets,” Mr. Teed said. “In the first four months of 2002 we made some good inroads. We're looking at independent dealers in those markets that we may not have had relationships with before.”
Looking ahead, Mr. Teed said Goodyear is finalizing plans for Dunlop's next targets. He wouldn't say where those might be, but did say the company is “soliciting retailers in all markets at this point.”
Mr. Teed said Dunlop is approaching major retailers in an effort to get the Dunlop brand into their businesses, along with the Goodyear and Kelly brands. He said a primary objective is to create more visibility for Dunlop, merely by getting increased shelf space.
The company is monitoring the Dunlop brand's progress by charting a monthly rating of its relationship with dealers. Mr. Teed said that through those ratings, it has seen improvement in some parts of the country, while progress in other areas has been spotty.
“We've had some positive feedback,” he said, noting that the company went through a significant integration from an ownership standpoint following Goodyear's acquisition of the brand from Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. “We've had some changes at specific levels. We're showing improvement. In a nutshell, (dealers) are seeing where we're going and we're getting some positive feedback from them.”
John Turk of Cleveland-based Conrad's Tire Service Inc. said his company has been interested in selling the Dunlop brand for some time but was waiting for the go-ahead from Goodyear. He said that thus far things have been slow, as Conrad's is still working at getting the product in, but he said he has high hopes for it once things get going.
“Something about Dunlop that we like is its exotic side, if you will. They have some of the tuner sizes that maybe aren't available in other brands,” Mr. Turk said. “There are certain parts of the G3 lineup that bringing in Dunlop enhances and also fits in certain niches, while eliminating some redundant SKUs. Other than that, I've got a lot to learn about it.”
To boost sales of Dunlop, Goodyear said last fall it planned to leverage the brand's upscale original equipment fitments and its strong ultra-high-performance image.
Following that plan, Dunlop introduced a V/Z speed-rated family of tires, the SP Sport FM901, at the SEMA International Auto Salon show April 19-21 in Long Beach, Calif