There is a lot of action taking place these days in the North American tire business that suggests the industry will become even more competitive in the years to come.
In just the last month alone, Pirelli Tyre S.p.A announced it is entering the already crowded commercial tire market in the U.S. and Canada. This is happening even as the blockbuster merger of Pirelli with China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) nears completion.
Japan's Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. also made news when it announced it had struck a deal to buy off-road specialty tire maker Alliance Tire Group in a $1.18 billion deal that will expand the Japanese tire maker's OTR business and put it into the agricultural tire segment for the first time.
China's Triangle Tyre Group made headlines after inviting the tire trade press to visit its technical center in Akron for the first time and learn more about the fledgling company, which has eight employees in North America.
Longtime industry veteran and new Triangle Tire USA CEO Manny Cicero shared how the company intends to grow by focusing on creating a brand image rather than simply signing up dealers and distributors and pushing sales and low prices.
All of these companies and their many competitors have one thing in common: They are vying for a piece of the strong North American tire market. To do so, they will have to find a way to take business from someone else, as the market in all segments is highly competitive and has seen slight, if steady, growth in the past few years.
That means these firms must understand and build strong relationships with their customers.
A recent Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study by J.D. Power and Associates, for example, found that younger consumers in the U.S. are less focused on brands than their elders. Instead, they are more interested in the value proposition of the tires they are purchasing.
While this research concentrated on the buying habits for aftermarket passenger tires, its findings in general are of equal importance for buyers of all types of tires.
Unless tire makers and tire dealers understand what's important to the users/purchasers of their tiresbe they medium truck, OTR, farm or consumerand how those buyers' habits may be changing, they will have a difficult time growing sales.
The industry is changing and so are the needs of tire buyers. Keep up with those changes to differentiate yourself from your competitors.