LAS VEGAS—Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc. is expanding its marketing into Latin America, partly because of exposure it has gained through Facebook.
The subsidiary of Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. plans to start shipping Nitto tires on March 1, focusing first on Brazil and Chile then Paraguay, according to James Nieves, the Japanese tire maker's Latin America sales manager.
"We basically want to start or concentrate on the first three (countries) and then go from there and expand into the others," Nieves said.
Nitto has in place a few distributors in Latin America, "but they are very small," said Martha Garcia, director of global strategic planning.
Nitto hasn't invested nor distributed tiers in the region. However, the tire maker discovered it has a following in Latin America after getting feedback through the social media site and at the past two Specialty Equipment Market Association trade shows.
"The product, it's out there," said Garcia. "It shows up and it's not an officially authorized product, so we were missing out on a huge opportunity. Definitely there is excitement. We definitely have enthusiasts there. "There is demand, so it would be foolish of us not to follow that call."
The company will marketing the brand in Latin America following the same formula as in the U.S.—focusing on grassroots events and offering point-of-sale materials. In addition, Nitto will continue to develop its websites to be more amenable to Latin American audiences.
"Our challenge, like in the (U.S.), though is going to be getting to the masses," Garcia said. "And we are proceeding with our idea of Nitto, a Japanese brand reborn in America, and there is a lot of excitement in Latin America about American-made product."
"And there is high respect for Japanese technology and product. So we have those advantages, and we're going to build on that."