An unconvincing reception for tire labeling in Europe
When the new tire legislation was introduced in Europe and the UK back in November 2012 the ruling came into effect with expectations that having informative labels on all new tires would be a positive move.
Four months later and just lately I have been thinking it would be interesting to find out exactly how tire labeling had been received at the sharp end— namely the tire retail outlets who have the job of explaining the new labels to customers and hopefully selling more tires in the process.
Fortunately I was recently commissioned by one of the UK’s leading tire magazines to carry out a snapshot independent and confidential survey of 50 tire retail outlets at random on how each depot is coping with and feels about the introduction of tire labeling. To get an overall picture of thought across the whole of Europe, I also called a number of tire retailers in several European countries for their views.
My objective was to ask each retailer a number of questions relating to tire labeling, such as: Has the new legislation helped in the sales process? Have staff found that customers have taken an interest in the labels and the performance statistics on them? Do they believe tire labeling is actually necessary? I also asked if all new tires were now being delivered with labels and if the labels were remaining on the tires. At the same time I was looking to see if storage racks had tires with labels on them plus whether promotional materials were on display.
The results of this survey have thrown up a few surprises and in some areas make serious — even alarming — reading. I will start with the “soft options,” meaning my observations in each outlet. Rather predictably, the majority of retailers (80%) had labels on all their new tires with a further 17% being mostly covered and only 3% did not have labels. Almost every outlet reported that tires were always supplied with labels.
With regards to whether the labels actually stayed on the tires, 77% stated they did, 15% remarked that some fell off occasionally and the remaining 8% had a problem with the labels. However, I was surprised to notice that only 58% were displaying tire labeling information and when I asked the remaining depots, most of them stated they had not actually received any promotional material.
With regards to being a sales aid, there was very much a split-decision as a majority 53% felt there had been no increase in sales whilst 47% had noticed a slight increase. When it came to whether customers were interested in tire labeling there was a resounding “no,” with everyone claiming that motorists were only interested in price.
Looking at the above opinions it is perhaps surprising that 49% of depots believed that tire labeling was necessary with 47% feeling it is a waste of time and 4% still undecided.
Although the vote goes slightly in favor of tire labeling, it is significantly interesting to note that at least half of the businesses agreed the legislation was a positive move but “not in its present format.”
On quite a few occasions it was explained to me that there are plenty more areas that need covering on the label plus scrutiny is needed of the way the tests are judged at the moment. A mid-range or even budget brand can have a higher rating than a major “A” brand, which cannot be correct.
So it seems the labels have not had a dramatic effect on tire sales and the main reason seems to be that the majority of customers just don’t care what’s on a tire, only how much it costs. I also found it disturbing that quite a few retailers have not received any tire labeling promotional material. You would have thought manufacturers and wholesalers would have ensured their retail customers were supplied with information to support the brands being delivered to their depot.
So tire labeling has made an impact on the European market but nowhere near as much as it needs to. As to its overall effectiveness...only time will tell. ■
John Stone has been working in the global tire industry for the past 20 years. In 2004 he launched his own company, Sapphire Media Services, as a business media consultant with clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.