TROY, Mich. (March 24, 2016) — Younger consumers in the U.S. are less major brand conscious than than their elders when it comes to buying aftermarket tires, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study.
That's not to say, however, that younger consumers favor less expensive brands, rather they're focused on the value proposition, the firm said.
Separately, J.D. Power said the Michelin brand was ranked highest in three of the four segments it tracks — luxury, passenger car and truck/utility — while Pirelli ranked No. 1 in the performance sport segment.
Established tire brands such as BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Goodyear and Michelin still have the highest consideration rates among all generations, J.D. Power said. But Gen X and Gen Y consumers are more likely than Baby Boomers or Pre-Boomers to consider less well-known or newer U.S. market brands like Cooper, Hankook and Pirelli when replacing the OE tires on their vehicle.
Seven out of 10 Gen X and 72 percent of Gen Y car owners switched tire brands if they replaced two or more tires, J.D. Power said, which contrasts sharply with the replacement rates for Boomers (59 percent) or Pre-Boomers (61 percent).
J.D. Power defines Pre-Boomers as those born before 1946; Boomers as those born 1946 to 1964; Gen X, 1965 to 1976; and Gen Y, 1977-1994.
“Gen X and Gen Y are more receptive to the lesser-known brands in large part because those manufacturers have focused their marketing efforts on younger consumers,” said Brent Gruber, director, global automotive division at J.D. Power.
“These consumers are increasingly looking at the value proposition, not just the cost or brand of the tire; if the perceived value is there, they're willing to spend more or consider alternative brands.”
Given the size of the U.S. passenger and light-truck tire market — nearly 300 million tires, with more than three-fourths of that coming from replacement tires — Mr. Gruber said manufacturers cannot afford to ignore younger consumers.
Gen X and Y combined accounted for 53 percent of new-vehicle retail sales in 2015, up from 50 percent in 2014.