“Since the United States is just a little bit bigger in terms of consumers and points of sale than they've got in Germany — or any other market, frankly, in the world — it's a little bit more difficult task, which is why we brought Johnny G in. Because we needed somebody who not only knew who the retailers were but actually really knew those people well enough to pick up the phone and say, ‘We want to come out and tell you about something.'”
Under Mr. Gamauf's leadership, Bridgestone/Firestone created its Affiliated Dealer Program, developing a network of thousands of consumer tire dealers. In addition, the company set sales records for replacement tires during his tenure.
Retired since 2008 after 39 years in the tire industry, Mr. Gamauf said he had trouble passing up the offer to work with GfK after he learned more about how the program works.
“Really, the bulk of information that is available today comes from the RMA, the Rubber Manufacturers Association, as far as how many units are sold or whatever,” he told Tire Business. “But nobody has sell-out information. Nobody has point-of-sale sell-out information.
“What does the average retailer sell a Goodyear Wrangler at in such-and-such size? How many run-flats are sold at an average retailer per month? etc., etc.,” he continued. “All of a sudden, it opened up my eyes and I said, ‘Wow, this is not only good for tire retailers, this is good for the tire industry, because we're kind of lagging behind.”
According to Neil Portnoy, managing director, retail and technology, GfK's Consumer Choices division, the firm hopes to establish the data acquired as a “common currency” between retailers and manufacturers.
“Basically what we're doing here is asking the retailers to provide us the raw material from which to extrapolate the entire market,” he said. “So we want that scanned data from each one of these retailers for each of their locations. We provide insights back to each individual retailer about what's happening in their shops, and we compare it to the total market when we have it up and running.”