Retail Wholesale Distribution

Sailun promotes value and quality

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Sailun promotes value and quality

Sailun is not yet a high-profile tire brand. It is currently distributed exclusively by TBC Corp. in the United States and Mexico and Dynamic Tire Corp. in Canada, and has only been around for the last 11 years.

According to Brian Mielko, vice president of sales, corporate accounts for Dynamic Tire,  the brand competes in the “value tier” for tires, but performs “at a level at least as high as a Tier Two tire, but at a lower price point.”

Mielko believes the value tier and Tier Two tires represent slightly over 50% of the total market for tires, which allows him to target consumers “who are open to listening to my message.” More than 70% of Sailun sales are placed on compact, economy, standard and intermediate vehicles.

The goal for Sailun is to show tire dealers and their salespeople it has a quality product that the company supports. This is a key reason Sailun showcased two tires from its Atrezzo and Terramax lines at a recent ride-and-drive event for dealers. The latest Sailun Tire Challenge was held at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

Organized by National Tire Warehouse (NTW), which is part of TBC, the event allowed Sailun to officially introduce the tires it is bringing to the U.S. and Canadian markets. This was the second event held by TBC Wholesale, although Sailun has held similar events in Canada for its winter tire line.

Jon Vance, senior director of product marketing for TBC Wholesale, reports TBC has been the exclusive distributor of Sailun tires in the U.S. for the last 10 years. TBC also has partnered with Sailun in the development and growth of TBC’s domestic programs. He says Sailun is in the top 2% to 3% for low rate of return of products.

“The tires have proven themselves with us,” says Vance. “We want consistent programs year-in and year-out with our suppliers, and Sailun has given us that.”

“From the TBC Wholesale perspective selling to large wholesale distributors and multi-unit retailers, Sailun is considered one of our ‘core brands,’ meaning that it had the product portfolio and segment coverage to be marketed as a full high-value program that dealers can profitably and competitively utilize in both sell-up opportunities from OPP (opening price point) products and sell-off opportunities from higher tier brands. It’s the same opportunity that we offer dealers with our other core brand programs such as Multi-Mile, Eldorado and Cordovan.”

“By providing our dealers with hands-on experience, they gain complete confidence in the product and convey that confidence to the consumer,” says Mielko. “Nothing is more powerful than to be able to say — ‘I tested those tires and I recommend them.’”

During the driving event, tire dealers drove Ford Escapes and Audi 4s fitted with Sailun tires and a “major brand tire” for back-to-back comparisons. The dealers were asked not to look at the tires and then give their opinions after driving on both.

After the event, the results were tabulated and showed very comparable results for the tires, something that Mielko says plays right into his company’s strategy. Sailun’s customer base is looking for a good tire but is very price aware.

Mielko believes that after the event, dealers are more apt to recommend Sailun to their “average customer who puts tires on the vehicle to get back and forth to work. These customers just want a good tire and they are very cost-aware.”

Vance agrees. “The key dealer takeaway from these events is without question a real appreciation of the Sailun value of equal performance to top tier brands at half the retail price. There is also an appreciation for the ‘blind’ format of these events and desire for an honest assessment of the driving experience.”

Although the “high-level” goal is to deliver subjective test results that can be used on a larger scale to promote the high value message of the Sailun program, the real world benefit is the ability to directly communicate to independent tire dealers who attend, says Vance.

“The dealer participation in the event and hopefully appreciation of the very real value proposition offered by the Sailun program is critical to developing the brand in the U.S. We understand that the dealer is the expert who can make a confident recommendation of the Sailun brand to consumers and we hope that by experiencing the tires’ quality and performance first hand, they will do just that.”

The first tire tested was the Atrezzo Z4+AS, an all-season ultra-high performance tire. It is a W-rated tire with sizes ranging from 16 to 20 inches. All of the tires carry a UTQG rating of 380 AA A.

The second tire was the Terramax CVR, an all-season luxury crossover and SUV tire. It comes in H-, V- and Y-rated sizes ranging from 15 to 20 inches. The tire is designed for popular CUV and SUV fitments. UTQG ratings range from 420 A A to 440 A A.

Sailun has global tire capacity of 30 million units per year from three factories. The company has plants in Qingdao and Shenyang, China, and a new plant in Vietnam.

One hundred percent of Sailun passenger, light truck and medium truck steer tires go through shearography and X-ray testing. They also are tested for both static and dynamic balance, says Mielko.

The Sailun group of companies manufactures the following four brands: Sailun, Rovelo, Blacklion and Jinyu. Less than half of the company’s total production is sold in the U.S. and Canada.    ■

Find more Focus on industry articles in our May 2014 issue. Click here for our digital version!

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