The next Tyrexpo Africa Show, taking place in three months in Johannesburg, will once again see an extensive amount of tires being promoted, ranging from leading manufacturer’s brands right through to the increasingly popular “budget” labels.
As a prelude to the show, SingEx’s PR consultant, John Stone, has recently been researching the international tire market in order to reach a viewpoint on some of the industry’s most controversial questions:
- What is the difference between “major A” brands produced by leading manufacturers such as Michelin, Bridgestone, Pirelli, Goodyear Dunlop, Continental and Yokohama, and more economically priced budget tires?
- Are cheaper tires effectively a “false market” when it comes to quality, comfort and safety?
- How intensive and dedicated are tire dealers/retailers and garages in actually explaining the varying qualities and benefits of individual brands to their customers?
While there are many conflicting views on the subject, there are generally several facts that can be established instantly, according to Stone. First, premium brands produced exclusively by the leading manufacturers are always going to cost considerably more than any other tire range because they carry the name of an established and respected producer. These products are expected to give motorists a higher level of driving performance, improved wear, grip and fuel efficiency.
The answer to the difference between the tires depends on driving conditions; industry experts will tell you that at high speeds in wet conditions having a premium tire fitted to your vehicle is a definite advantage. This is a statement backed by a series of recent tests carried out by a leading car magazine in Europe that confirmed that budget tires will take on average a distance of 14 meters (45.9 feet) longer than premium tires to stop from a speed of 70 mph. While premium tires are significantly quieter than their budget-priced rivals.
What about budget branded tires? How do they defend themselves against such aggressive statistics? Producers state that the word “budget” refers to price and not quality. Stone spoke to a number of budget tire producers, and they universally stated that budget tires do not necessarily represent poor quality and the measure comes down to what a motorist actually expects from their tires.
Broadly speaking, budget tires are more suited to driving at slightly slower speeds and for urban roads and cars that average annual low mileages. Therefore these brands seem perfect for second family vehicles where distance is not so much of an issue.
As the international market also now has an increasing number of mid-range brands that sit between premium and budget ranges, there is still some confusion on what this can mean for the consumer. These midrange tires are sometimes offered by major tire companies under a different name and are promoted as being the perfect compromise between leading and budget brands as they provide additional tire wear and fuel efficiency than cheaper budget tires. However, it also is worth noting that the introduction of EU Labeling on tires, including the provision of clear performance levels, has significantly improved the chances of European drivers making a good judgement about the tires fitted to their vehicle.
What about tire dealers/retailers and garages? Do they actually have a policy of always explaining the differences in quality, performance and value for money? This is a difficult question to answer because it all depends on the staff and company policies of each dealer whether it’s a leading chain of sales outlets or individual independent businesses.
Using information and analysis gathered from within the industry, SingEx believes that roughly 40 percent of businesses will adopt a professional and conscientious approach to helping their customers buy the right type of tire for their driving needs. However, that leaves 60 percent who continue to put profit before personal service and, where possible, will always sell the brands that reap the most profit.
The tire industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and profit from tire sales for some has become an important lifeline for helping safeguard against difficult trading periods. This situation is not improved by the remarkably low interest and complete apathy by a majority of consumers who still regard buying tires as a so-called “stress purchase,” according to Stone’s research.