The much ballyhooed ``flight to quality,'' a projected consumer stampede to better known flag brands in the wake of the Firestone recall, appears to have been downgraded from a jumbo jet to an intermediate commuter plane.
Although flag brands have gained passenger tire share-up nearly 4 percent in two years, to 58 percent-a portion of that gain has been from their own associate brands, Rubber Manufacturers Association data show.
Private passenger brands have slipped about three points, to 22.4 percent last year, although on the light truck tire side, the decline has been less than a full point, to 23.7 percent last year.
Larger private branders surveyed for this year's Tire Brands section say they haven't seen significant changes in their business, other than poor fill rates and their own increasing reliance on imports.
To hear them speak, selling tires is still the domain of the counterperson, and even millions of dollars of major brand advertising does little to sway that reality.