Sticker shock isn’t exclusive to passenger tires. Light truck tire prices have increased, as well. And buyers who have been out of the market for a while have noticed.
We recently asked light truck tire suppliers to share tips to help dealers navigate the pricing discussion with customers. Here’s what they had to say:
Brandon Stotsenburg, vice president, automotive division, American Kenda Rubber Co. Ltd.: Understand the consumer’s specific situation. Explaining financing options without sacrificing performance will be the recommended approach.
Stephen Liu, senior director, proprietary brands, American Tire Distributors Inc.: Educate consumers on the advantages of buying local and building a relationship with your retail location that lasts longer than just a tire sale.
J. Downey Sr., product manager, Apollo Tyres Ltd.: Light truck tires are engineered to meet the specifications of the manufacturers, with safety and meeting consumer expectations. Weighing the risks of compromising safety versus performance/ price should be the theme of any conversation.
Brad Robison, senior product manager, Bridgestone Americas Inc.: It’s important that dealers have conversations with their customers to understand their specific vehicle, typical usage and performance expectations to ensure they get a product that meets their needs.
Travis Roffler, director of marketing, Continental Tire the Americas LLC: I always warn dealers about putting LT-metric tires in place of P-metric tires without discussing the potential impact on ride comfort, noise and handling with the consumer, depending on the pattern type you are replacing.
David Shelton, director of industry relations, Giti Tire (USA) Ltd.: The good thing here is that these tires fit more into the “want” purchase (category), rather than the “need” purchase. Your task is to find what (the customer’s) hidden expectations are and define their limits and where they are willing to deviate from to get what they want, but still leave feeling good about their acquisition.
Rob Williams, senior vice president, North American sales, Hankook Tire North America: With the continued rise in the cost for light truck tire pricing, we have seen consumers go with the more reliable and cost-friendly option. With this in mind, dealers need to acknowledge the consumer’s point of view.
Victor Qui, vice president of sales and marketing, Horizon Tire Inc.: It really depends on what brand you want to push. End users normally listen to the retail salesperson’s pitch about the value of the tires.
Rick Phillips, CEO, Keter Tire Inc.: You have to stay up to date with what’s going on in the industry and the factors that affect pricing. If you do that, you are able to educate customers. When customers feel like they are well-informed, they have more confidence in making buying decisions.
Chris Jenkins, programs and marketing manager, automotive division, Maxxis International - USA: This is not as complicated as most would think. It comes down to the basic quality features of the tire. Is the consumer looking to buy a name or buy the best quality? How about both?
Jason Yard, marketing director, Nexen Tire North America Inc.: Take advantage of manufacturers’ incentives and distributor accounts, where available. It’s good to have a few options to offer, but having too many can dilute your threshold of discounts and rebates.
Stephen Leu, director of brand publishing, Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc.: Light truck tire buyers have a wide variety of needs and the all-terrain, rugged-terrain and mud-terrain segments have a plethora of product offerings, each with its own unique strengths and features. Finding the right product to address the customer’s predispositions is always a good start.
Erdem Halulu, chief commercial officer, Pirelli Tire North America Inc.: Light truck tire customers don’t want to sacrifice on tire performance. That’s why tire dealers should explain to them that investing in a tier-one tire brand will provide them and their vehicle with the best performance.
Jack McClure, director of product development, Sailun Tire Americas: It always circles back to building a relationship with the customer and earning their trust. With pricing in an uncertain economy, a great first step in customer trust building is to provide a quality product with value.
Darrel Jackson, senior manager of franchise learning and development, TBC Corp: Listening to your customers is key. To really understand the customer and their needs, ask purposeful questions and listen to the answers provided. If you take the time to describe how the features of a higher-priced tire meet their needs in a way that a lower-priced tire cannot, oftentimes price is no longer a factor.
Andrew Hoit, vice president of sales and marketing, brands division, Tireco: During inflationary economic times, consumers are more likely to consider a lesser-known brand with a strong value proposition. It is also a great opportunity to remind consumers about the benefits of proper tire maintenance, including periodic air pressure checks and tire rotations, to maximize fuel economy and tire life.
Joaquin Gonzalez Jr., president, Tire Group International Inc.: When discussing options with your customer, you must have options for him to make the best decision that suits his needs and budget. If you are only offering a tier-one product in your portfolio in a specific category, you will miss out on sales.
Conrad Galamgam, vice president, product planning and technical services, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.: It is important to note that load range/ply ratings cannot be used alone to identify a proper vehicle fitment. Regardless of on- or off-road use, it is imperative that replacement tires for any vehicle must be of a size, load range and load capacity — by inflation — that is capable of supporting the same load as the vehicle’s originally installed tires.
Roman Racela, marketing director, Transamerica Tire Co. Ltd.: Once a tire dealer makes a value proposition to consumers by making them aware of the features and benefits (of a tire), price becomes less important, thereby increasing the chance of closing the sale.
Martin Marquez, regional sales manager, west, Trimax Tire: Make sure you have the right application for the right vehicle. Be con dent with the tire you are selling and most importantly, be honest with the customer.