PLAYA CONCHAL, Costa Rica (Jan. 16, 2012) — Two years ago Kumho Tire USA Inc. successfully switched its marketing focus to sports in general from motorsports. Now it is encouraging its dealers to tie into this effort locally.
The first step is better communications, Kumho Tire USA executives told dealers and distributors attending the tire maker's annual dealer meeting held recently in Playa Conchal.
“Our sales guys do a wonderful job, but sometimes they are not aware of everything marketing is doing,” said David Koh, marketing communications manager. “We want to increase and open that line of communication to you directly. Talk about what we're doing. Talk about what's coming up. Talk about some of the TV advertising that we're going to do.”
Kumho's marketing efforts include sponsorships of the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association, the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets of the National Football League, five college football teams, including the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans, and the U.S. men's and women's soccer teams.
Those efforts resulted in a four-point improvement in aided brand awareness, with Kumho rising to 25 percent from 21 percent in one year, said Rick Brennan, vice president of marketing.
Mr. Koh said Kumho is looking to elevate the experience consumers have with the Kumho brand.
That means more interaction rather than simply focusing on signage at the various venues.
“You know other companies rely on signage at the stadiums, but for us it has to be a little bit more relevant, ‘What do you care about,'” Mr. Koh said.
Following this marketing philosophy, Kumho increased the number of hospitality tickets and suite nights at USC games “so we could invite more dealers to enjoy and elevate their experience,” Mr. Koh said.
The firm also brought its motorsports truck to every home game and had a huge activation area with interactive games and giveaways for kids. It even offered co-branded merchandise such as a USC cap featuring the Kumho Tire name stitched on the side.
Citing data from an independent study, Mr. Koh said Kumho's customers are 60 percent male and range in age from 18 to 49, a much sought-after audience. Many are key decision makers when it comes to tires, he said. They also tend to be full-time professionals earning $75,000 a year and up.
“You guys have done a great job of elevating our tires to a very sought-after demographic,” Mr. Koh said.
A key initiative for Kumho in 2012 is finding ways to partner with dealers in their local area with a goal of moving tires.
Mr. Koh cited a partnership the company has with the Buffalo Bills and Dunn Tire Corp. in the Buffalo, N.Y., area.
The firm created point-of-sale items, including a free cap offer, and advertised them at as many touch points as possible, including online, at the stadium, at the Kumho activation area and also on the backs of each Buffalo Bills game ticket—an offer for $75 off any four Kumho tires purchased at a Dunn Tire store.
The company also did a promotional tie in with Sullivan Tire Co. in the Boston area for a soccer game.
“How can we work together as a team, getting involved with us,” he said. “If it's not soccer, then what is there in your area that you want to partner with. We're willing to listen. We're willing to work together.”
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