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The consumer is Bridgestone's "Boss"

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The consumer is Bridgestone's "Boss"

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC (BATO) executives spent most of their annual Consumer Dealer Meeting last week telling their top retail dealer customers how they are promoting their tire brands to the consumer. 

The company brought 450 tire dealer personnel from 200 tire dealers to its hometown of Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 17-18 to discuss their upcoming plans.

Much of the strategy and terms were borrowed, and referenced, from Proctor & Gamble, including that company’s well-known “Moment of Truth” philosophy, and calling the consumer, “The Boss”. John Baratta, president of BATO’s Consumer Replacement Tire Sales Division told dealers that they have done a good job on “the first moment of truth”. That is, the consumer makes a buying decision within seven seconds of entering a retail store.

Baratta told dealers that they are responsible for the “second moment of truth”, which is when the consumer buys the product and takes it home, and dealers are doing a good job in this regard, too.  

The twist that Baratta told dealers is that there is now the “zero moment of truth”, which means that a customer’s perception about a product has begun before they even start to do business with a company. Baratta said their research now shows that 70% of consumers are on-line looking at product reviews before they make a tire buying decision. He further said 79% of consumers are shopping with smartphones. (More information about Bridgestone’s on-line marketing initiatives will be in an upcoming issue of MTD)

Referencing some negative issues that Bridgestone had with its dealers earlier this year, Gary Garfield, president and CEO of BATO said, “as long as I am in this job, we are committed to growing our relationship with you. You are a competitive advantage. Earlier in the year, we didn’t do a great job in our partnership.” Garfield assured dealers the company had made the necessary changes to improve the partnership.

Larry McGee, president, Consumer Tire U.S. & Canada, BATO, drew the biggest applause of the event when he announced that Bridgestone was returning as an original equipment supplier to Ford. He said the company would have their Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza on the 2013 Ford F-150 truck.

Four new tires are being launched during 2013 by Bridgestone. 

1. The Bridgestone Potenza RE97 AS is being launched in March. It was described as a blend of performance and touring and will come in 16-inch and 18-inch sizes in V- and W- speed ratings. It will have 22 sizes ranging from 45- to 60-series. The company showed a picture of an Acura TL, Nissan Maxima, Mazda 6, VW Passat and Cadillac XTS as examples of vehicles that they are targeting with the tire. 

2. The Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 A is also being launched in March. It was described as an ultra-high performance tire that will come in 15-, 16- and 17-inch rim diameters and V- and W-speed ratings. It will have ten sized in 40- to 55-series. The target cars pictured were VW GTi, Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, and the Honda S2000.

3. The Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS is being launched in April. It was described as a performance tire for all seasons for CUVs and will come in 17- to 20-inch sizes in H-, V- and W- speed ratings. It will have nine sizes in 40- to 65-series and features a 40K limited tread wear warranty. Most CUVs were shown as the target vehicles for this tire.

4. The final tire to be launched is a high-end Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32. It was described as a tire that preserves performance and sportiness when it’s not snowing. It is being launched in July and will come in 16- to 20-inch sizes in V- and W- speed ratings.  It will have 33 sizes in 35- to 50-series. Targeted fitments for the tire are Audi A3s, Audi A8s, BMW 5-Series, Mercedes C and E Classes.

The company also told its dealers that its Affiliated Retailer program was receiving some enhancements.  This includes an expanded fill-in program to allow dealers better and quicker access to products; a nationwide warranty program and a new credit card.

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