Jae Bum Park, left, and Shawn Denlein, say Hankook's Laufenn brand, introduced two years ago, is meeting expectations and bringing more brand awareness to the Hankook brand.

Jae Bum Park, left, and Shawn Denlein, say Hankook's Laufenn brand, introduced two years ago, is meeting expectations and bringing more brand awareness to the Hankook brand.

Will Hankook be the next tire manufacturer to sell tires online? In a word, no. “We have been focusing on our dealers,” said Jae Bum Park, senior vice president of marketing for Hankook during an interview with Modern Tire Dealer in the opening hours of the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. The tire company intends to continue to do business with those dealers.

While the company is following along as other tire manufacturers, most recently Michelin North America Inc., and before that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., have launched online tire sales platforms, Hankook says it would be counter-intuitive for it to disrupt its partnerships with dealers and sell directly to consumers.

Shawn Denlein, senior vice president of sales for Hankook Tire America Corp., said, “Our growth with Hankook has been with the independent dealer.”

The World Series

Hankook’s team approach to sports marketing is paying off big in Major League Baseball, and next the company is expanding to the NBA as sponsors of nine teams in the newly-minted 2016-2017 season.

Park and Denlein agree the baseball marketing program has been “quite successful,” as Park described it. Denlein said, “Our brand awareness has more than tripled.”

The Laufenn Brand

Two years after unveiling its lower-cost Laufenn brand at the SEMA Show,the company plans to give an overview of its growth. Hankook will host a press conference on Thursday at the 2016 show.

Until then, Park and Denlein gave a general overview of the brand which was launched in the U.S., and has grown globally. It boils down to this: the Laufenn brand is meeting its goals, and along the way it’s helping to create greater brand awareness for the higher-tiered Hankook products.

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