Cross marketing opportunities
He said he envisions tire dealerships that sell Timberland tires offering discount coupons for the purchase of Timberland footwear, and conversely, retailers that sell Timberland footwear offering customers a coupon toward the purchase of Timberland tires.
Omni said it approached Timberland three years ago with the idea of extending a well-known lifestyle brand to the tire category, an approach that has been successful in other industries, such as the eyewear industry. (This reporter is wearing Coach-brand eyeglasses as she writes this article.)
During the last 30 years, Omni contends, the perception of eyeglasses has changed from being purely functional objects to becoming key fashion accessories.
Omni said the Timberland line likely will attract consumers who are looking to make a statement about themselves and their cars since the Timberland brand symbolizes “an outdoors lifestyle, a sense of fun and adventure, and a timeless style.”
Another aspect of the partnership is the shared vision of environmental responsibility.
Timberland's brand philosophy of being environmentally sensitive resonates with the Omni brand, Mr. Sareen said. The ultimate goal of the partnership is for worn-out Timberland tires to be reclaimed and recycled for use in the manufacturing of the outsoles of Timberland footwear.
Some tire buyers are concerned about where their tires end up at the end of their usable tread life, Omni said.
“Timberland Tires provides those customers with the ‘brand promise' that special efforts are taken to ensure their tires are recycled at the end of their life, and therefore, an alternative to other tire brands…. This means car owners will now have an alternative when choosing a tire brand that mirrors their values,” the tire company said.
Stratham, N.H.-based Timberland, which generates about $2 billion in annual global sales, has built a reputation for being environmentally friendly by using recycled, organic and renewal materials in its shoes and boots.
The company was founded in 1978 and acquired in 2011 by VF Corp., which also owns North Face, Vans, Wrangler, Red Kap and Nautica, among other fashion brands.
The new tires will feature the Timberland name and tree logo, Omni said, and be available in 92 CUV, all-terrain and passenger touring sizes with T-, H- and V-ratings covering 75 percent of the market.
Omni initially is targeting the Timberland tire line for the U.S. market, with plans to launch 21 Timberland Cross CUV sizes in April and add 14 more next September. Fourteen Timberland A/T sizes will debut in July with up to 30 sizes available by March 2016. Timberland Tour sizes will be offered in 2016. Suggested retail prices will range from $145 to $299, depending on the tire type and size.
The tires are being manufactured in the U.S. under contract with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Omni said.
After the U.S. launch, the company will look at additional markets and eventually go global, Mr. Sareen said.
For tire dealers, Omni said it is enforcing its Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) policy to help ensure dealer profitability; creating programs for “stocking dealers” and for “preferred installers;” and launching a national advertising and promotional plan to leverage the brand loyalty of Timberland customers and translate that into demand for the branded tire at point-of-sale. The tire distributor said it also is developing extensive co-marketing opportunities.
Mr. Sareen told Tire Business he sees this type of cross-marketing as a potential trend in the tire industry.
“Instead of just slapping a brand on a tire,” he said he wanted to partner with a brand that shares its environmentally conscious philosophy but also has high recognition among consumers.
“If you stop a regular guy and ask him to name five tire brands, he would not be able to. But if you ask him to name five fashion brands or shoe brands, he could go on until the cows come home,” he said.
“In brand recall of Timberland vs. a tire brand, to an average consumer the Timberland brand scores much higher…. These (fashion) brands are consumer brands. Consumers recognize these brands. They walk into the store to buy these brands. Yet with the tire brand situation, you all know the salesperson is influential over what the customer buys,” Mr. Sareen said.
Just a few months ago TBC Corp. and wholesaler Harris Tire Co. announced an affiliation with the stars of the popular A&E reality cable TV show “Duck Dynasty.” The companies introduced the Duck Commander-brand tires featuring the logo of the “Duck Dynasty” family's business.
Omni's response: “Duck Commander tires appear to be simply a licensing/marketing agreement, while there is a ground-breaking and authentic sustainability story embodied in Timberland tires (from design to marketing to process) that is a key differentiating point in the positioning of the brand. When the tread of the tires wears out, the tires will continue to live on, recycled into Timberland footwear.”
The “Duck Dynasty” show and marketing machine frenzy apparently hasn't traversed the oceans because both Ms. Maceira in England and Mr. Sareen in Singapore said they were unfamiliar with the TV show. But Mr. Sareen said he expects such consumer brand affiliations to become a trend in the tire industry.
Omni claims to be the first tire company to pursue co-marketing, noting its association beginning in 2011 with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation with the production of a limited edition “Ring of Hope” pink sidewall Radar RPX 900 tire. For every pink tire sold, Omni donated $5 to the foundation.