GRAPEVINE, Texas—When it comes to creating sustainable profitability for itself and its customer base, Goodyear is “More Driven” than ever before.
During its 2011 Goodyear Dealer Conference Jan. 27-29 in Grapevine, the Akron-based tire maker reinforced its commitment to its dealers—both retail and commercial—and made the message clear that it wants to be the industry leader in innovation going forward.
“At the end of the day, our business, it's about the product,” said Richard Kramer, Goodyear's chairman and CEO, to a room of 2,500 attendees. “It's about getting you the right product, it's about developing products from the market back with relevant innovation that we can put in your stores, that consumers want to buy and you want to sell. That's what it's all about.
“I'll commit to you that we will stay on our front foot and we're gonna keep our competitors chasing us in that area.”
The company backed up its goal with the announcement of three consumer products—the next generation Assurance TripleTred All-Season premium touring tire, Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 ultra-high-performance tire and the Kelly-brand Safari ATR all-terrain light truck and SUV tire—and launched passenger sizes for its existing Ultra Grip Ice WRT winter tire line. In addition, Goodyear's commercial division unveiled 11 products, including new tires and tread patterns for retreads.
More than just tires
Goodyear stressed that new tires are not the only way to be innovative. The firm made its point clear when it unveiled details about new programs and business solutions for retail dealers and commercial fleets, as well as its newest North American consumer advertising campaign, titled “More Driven.”
On the consumer side in 2010, Goodyear's core product screen—which comprised 12 percent of its SKUs—benefited from a fill rate of more than 90 percent, despite industrywide tire shortages. The company attributed its success to its manufacturing strategy of primarily producing the tires that are selling.
“From a manufacturing perspective, make no mistake, our strategy and our practice has been to make sure we're only making tires people want in the marketplace,” Kramer told dealers. “Some of you, many of you actually, have told us that we've been your best supplier this year. I feel good about that, but I don't feel good because I know there's a lot more we can do together to earn your business, and we'll commit to do that for you in 2011.”
While 2010 was a year where the economy and the tire industry got back on track, according to Kramer, all indicators point toward 2011 being even better.
“Miles driven are up, auto production is up, trucking companies are getting back on the road, people are consuming,” he said.
Though he predicted the growing global economy will likely place more constraints on commodity costs and natural resources in the years ahead, dealers should take it in stride.
“I'm not worried about it, and you shouldn't be worried about it, and I'll tell you why,” he said. “Number one, we still think the best place to sell tires is here in North America. Number two, my confidence, frankly, is in you and our team.
“Think about what we overcame and where we are today,” he continued. “I believe there's nothing, whatever it is, that this team can't overcome, as dealers and Goodyear together. I firmly believe that.”
From a consumer standpoint, Goodyear's goals in 2011 are to build brand commitment by marketing to unengaged consumers, capture those actively searching for tires with targeted marketing efforts and to seamlessly connect consumers to the right tire and retailer through its website, which it refreshed last year.
The company plans to do this through an integrated marketing campaign that will leverage the equity the company has generated among “experts” in its history, new interactive marketing and “advanced media buying and targeting,” said Scott Rogers, chief marketing officer of Goodyear's consumer tires division.
“These are not individual elements,” he told attendees. “They're all integrated components that work together to drive the consumer through the purchase funnel and more traffic to you.”