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Are Consumers Reconsidering How They See Tire Brands?

February 22, 2012
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Recently, Consumer Reports posited that the perception difference between good-better-best car brands is shrinking. They made that statement based on the results of their own 2012 Car-Brand Perception Survey.

According to that survey, perennial brand perception leaders Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevrolet (Huh?) “maintained their top positions but have seen the point gap decrease. In fact, most of the top brands saw double-digit drops in their total scores.”

In its press release, CR said, “Toyota continues to dominate overall in brand perception, although it slipped a significant 17 points, compared with last year's survey results. Other top brands, Ford, Honda, and BMW, saw their scores drop more than 20 points. The two leading General Motors brands, Cadillac and Chevrolet, did relatively better with only single-digit decreases.”

According to Consumer Reports, “survey scores reflect how consumers perceive each brand in seven categories: safety, quality, value, performance, environmentally friendly/green, design/style, and technology/innovation.”

OK, so what happened? Well, basically not much. Sure, Toyota has some recall issues. So did Ford. GM, while better, isn’t on par with Porsche, which remains firmly in the top echelon.

No, it was less about the vehicles and more about gas prices and the economy, which “have pushed consumers to prize low operating costs and good reliability," according to Jeff Bartlett, CR deputy editor for autos online. You can find the entire survey at consumerreports.org.

With that as the backdrop, one has to wonder if consumers would or have changed their tire brand perceptions? What do they see when they look at Michelin or Bridgestone or Goodyear or any other tire brand? Are established perceptions of “safety,” “technology” or “value” still important, or has some other dynamic raised or lowered perceptions?

I have every confidence the Big Three and several other tiremakers have done extensive perception studies, but they don’t share that data. (Pssst: My email address is  HYPERLINK "mailto:jsmith@babcox.com" jsmith@babcox.com.  Promise I won’t tell a soul!)

So I will ask you, you loyal readers, have you seen a shift – up or down – for particular tire brands that you carry? What have your customers said? Give us the results of your own real-world, over-the-counter brand perception survey.

Leave your “survey results” in the comment space below, or send them to me via email.

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OK, I am going to apologize first, but I cannot resist this one.

As you read on our website not too many days ago, Pirelli Tire North America has a new boss, Paolo Ferrari, who was named chairman and CEO of Pirelli’s NAFTA region.

So, Pirelli has finally gotten a Ferrari.

There, I’m done. Again, sorry.