‘The Era of Trial’: Door Is Open for Value Truck Tire Brands, Says Sailun
The impact of COVID-19 on trucking fleets’ operating budgets has created an opening for “value tier” commercial truck tire brands to gain additional market share, according to Kevin Lake, vice president of marketing, Sailun Tire Americas.
Lake calls this “a fantastic opportunity” for the Sailun brand, which, according to MTD research, currently enjoys 2% share of the United States replacement truck tire market. It also mirrors what’s happening in the consumer tire segment, he says.
The growing preference for lower-tier products “is a direct reflection of financial pressure. People are stretching their non-discretionary purchases. The same thing is happening with truck tires.”
Combine the increased pressure on fleet equipment managers to control costs with “some pretty significant structural changes” in the way freight is hauled — including rapid growth in the regional haul segment — and “this is an opportune moment,” says Lake.
“There are some other intriguing things that are going on. Class 8 truck sales are at a record low. Many fleet managers are delaying or forgoing the purchase of new equipment, which will only accelerate the replacement market.
“I also think the awareness level of how much the quality gap” between various tiers “has closed is increasing. That’s why we are seeing share growth in the value tier,” which Lake believes “is outpacing tier one and tier two.”
Sailun recently introduced two new truck tires, including the S702, a regional drive tire for pickup and delivery applications, and the S705, a wide-base product for long-haul trucks.
“We are very serious about taking a leadership position within the value tier,” says Lake. “We’ve set our sights on doubling our market share.”
Larger trucking fleets that participate in national account programs could contribute to this effort, he says.
Sailun doesn’t currently offer a national account program with big fleets, “but that’s an area we’d like to grow in,” he says. “You’re probably going to see us open up in trying to pursue some of that business.
“Obviously, when it comes to expansion and working with some of these bigger juggernauts, we would work closely with our distribution network to best determine our approach to servicing these large fleets,” says Lake.
“Ultimately, it may be a hybrid approach that looks a little different than the traditional national account programs offered by other tire manufacturers. This would also ensure we work together with our well-established distributors and their robust dealer networks to service the requirements of large regional and national fleets.
“Everyone is looking for ways to add to the bottom line,” he continues. “A lot of fleets are re-evaluating the savings opportunities that are out there and the potential of working with different brands that they may not have in the past.
“It’s almost the ‘era of trial’ for the value tier,” says Lake.