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Hankook says it will build on 2006 success

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Hankook Tire America Corp. executives gave an overview of the company's successes in 2006, and outlined its plans for 2007 at the "Dare to Compare" Dealer Meeting in Palm Springs, Calif.

Hankook's parent company, Hankook Tire Co. Ltd., had $2.95 billion in sales in 2006, according to Bill Finn, senior vice president. The Korean company's manufacturing capacity is expected to reach more than 75 million units annually by 2008.

In the United States, Hankook sales totaled $613 million, or nearly 21% of the company's worldwide sales. The result was increased replacement passenger and light truck market share:

Passenger: 4%

Radial light truck: 2.5%

Radial medium truck: 2.5%

Part of the market share gains are the result of Hankook's participation in both Ford Motor Co.'s Around-The-Wheel Program, which represents 4,400 Ford, Lincoln/Mercury and Volvo dealerships in 50 states, and General Motors Corp.'s GM Goodwrench program, which represents more than 6,000 GM and Saturn branded dealerships nationwide.

In 2007, Hankook Tire America will add the Dynapro ATm RF10 to its product line-up, which includes the following:

Ventus: S1 evo K107, RS-2 Z212, V4ES H105, ST RH06 and AS RH07.

Optimo: H418, H727.

Mileage Plus II: H725.

Dynapro: ATm RF10 (new) and MT RT03.

Radial truck tires: AL07 Long Haul Steer, AH11 Short Haul All-Position, AH12 Medium Haul All-Position, DL01 Long Haul Drive and TL01 Long Haul Trailer.

Bill Bainbridge, director of brand communications, said Hankook will grow and support its dealers with a number of marketing initiatives in 2007. The company plans to:

* expand its OE fitments and relationships. (According to Modern Tire Dealer's 2007 Facts Issue, Hankook has a 3.9% share of the U.S. and Canadian OE consumer tire market.)

* broaden its dealer base and increase points of sale.

* increase brand awareness, brand preference and brand loyalty.

* position Hankook as a technology-focused and market-driven company.

* focus on primary competitive brand targets and specific consumers in order to increase market share pattern by pattern.

With those goals in mind, Hankook will "develop a new marketing strategy that will increase Hankook brand equity with consumers and dealers," said Bainbridge. The company also will utilize "vertical marketing" to influence consumers on brand and product selection -- while directing them to retail points-of-sale.

The company will continue to use sports marketing as a means to give its brand cache. Its motorsports activities include SCCA and NASA National and Regional Club Racing, F2000 Championship Series East & West, IMSA Lites, Professional Rally Competition, autocross and "Drifting & Time Attack."

Hankook also will continue its relationship with Major League Baseball with signage behind home plate and in stadium parking lots. (In 2006, Hankook's "behind home plate" signage generated more than six billion impressions for the brand, according to Bainbridge.)

"Our goals in 2006 were to continue our efforts in expanding awareness for the Hankook brand and begin to create brand equity," he said. "Our strategy included efforts to support the introduction and sales efforts for three new products, an expanded magazine advertising campaign, new motorsports sponsorships and a variety of exhibitions and promotions.

"As evidenced by our gains in sales and market share in passenger LTR products during a year when the overall industry declined, we believe we achieved much success."

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