A product presentation during Bridgestone Americas’ Consumer Tire Business Meeting on November 18 served as a platform to announce the rollout of three new tires, enhancements to the Bridgestone product portfolio it said will help its dealers make and keep satisfied customers for life.
Randy Street, executive director, consumer tire sales strategy, Americas Tire group, kicked off the segment by explaining how the company’s product development process starts with a commitment to providing its dealers and customers with the best possible solution, wherever they are on their journey.
“In 2020, it’s been quite the journey, but through all the disruption, the prevailing mobility trends of the past few years continue to hold true,” he said. “Sizing complexity continues to increase in the car parc. And, this is fueled by sustained growth in CUVs, SUVs and pickup trucks …. and drivers in all segments are demanding enhanced all-season performance to keep them moving confidently, no matter what the weather. So, that’s why we’re excited to launch new products in 2021 that we believe will deliver these advanced solutions to all these trends.”
Next, Jeff Cook, executive director, product strategy and portfolio management, Americas tire group, told the audience what Bridgestone is doing “to regain that number one position in the ultra-high-performance segment.”
“First, we’re going to talk about the tire that will elevate Bridgestone to the top of the summer UHP podium,” Cook said, as he introduced the Bridgestone Potenza Sport — “a UHP summer champion that empowers drivers to feel the rush and capture every second, a driving enjoyment while really upgrading the performance of their sporty vehicles, even in wet conditions.”
The Bridgestone Potenza Sport, designed to deliver ultimate grip and enhanced cornering at high speeds, will launch in 65 sizes to fit 81% of the sports cars and sedans on the road. Its ultra-high silica compound provides exceptional grip and responsive handling in extreme performance driving conditions, Cook added. Additionally, proprietary 3D siping technology enhances pattern stiffness and provides an optimized balance of traction and wear performance.
Cook then introduced the second new tire in the company’s rollout — the Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS+ — that will launch in 53 sizes to fit 85% of the sports cars and sports sedans on the road. This UHP tire, designed to deliver trusted traction and sporty handling across all four seasons, builds upon the success of the previous-generation Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS by offering enhanced ride comfort, improved snow performance and better treadwear, he added.
Paving the way for the third new tire introduction, Cook announced that the company will be retiring its iconic Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus “after many excellent years of performance and many, many very satisfied drivers.” The best way to replace this legendary tire, is to create a new one, he said in announcing the Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra, a new premium touring tire for luxury SUVs and CUV, that will launch in 49 sizes to fit 70% of the CUV, SUV and light truck vehicle models released since 2010. An all-new tread compound offers an improvement in overall wet performance compared to the currently available Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus, Cook added.
In the marketing updates portion of the presentation, Merritt Gilbert, director, consumer marketing operations, Americas tire group, and Jeff Lack, vice president, enterprise digital solutions, highlighted initiatives that are at the core of driving business to its dealers and boosting profitability.
In detailing how Bridgestone is supporting its dealers with premium marketing campaigns, partnerships and support that set the bar in the industry, Gilbert said, “When you choose to represent and sell our brands, you benefit from some of the best marketing assets in the world. Our marketing team works every day to drive customers to your business and to help you sell more Bridgestone and Firestone tires. As we move into 2021, we will continue to provide you, our valued partners, with that same level of support that you have come to depend upon and expect.”
Gilbert highlighted three key areas in which Bridgestone will help its partners thrive in the coming year.
- Digital marketing will be leveraged to help its dealers stand out in the marketplace;
- Investments in building its brands to keep them strong;
- Being an indispensable partner for its retail and dealer partners.
Lack noted that Bridgestone has made some significant strategic investments in digital marketing over the past seven years, with more than 90% of consumers starting their journey to find tires with an online search and buying them online in increasing numbers. “Since the beginning of 2020, online tire sales have grown 45%, and today we estimate that 12 to 15% of all tires are sold online,” he said. “So now more than ever, we’re living in a digital world. And, if you’re not online, you are not in the game.”
To help its partners thrive in 2021, the company is enhancing its strategic platforms and digital programs that generate leads to dealer stores, including upgrades to both the Bridgestone and Firestone websites, and improving the content on the site, making it richer and more engaging. In addition, retail sites will be seamlessly integrated into the tire detail pages, making it even easier to find dealer stores on these websites. “We believe these changes will have a huge impact on the performance of our sites, increasing our key metrics by over 20% and delivering 1.7 million leads to your stores that we estimate will generate over $1 billion of revenue for our retail partners,” Lack said.
Gilbert added that it is “incredibly important” in today’s market to target millennials because they are the largest consumer group (at 70 million), and the largest automotive buying group representing 30% of all tire transactions. That focus has paid off for Bridgestone evidenced in winning with millennial consumers on key measures like consideration purchase intent, she continued.
This year, there will be a total of 27 weeks of national promotions for the Bridgestone and Firestone brands, Gilbert explained, “We are creating standalone promotions to support our biggest tire launches of the year. We want to ensure these products drive right when they hit the market, so we’re offering a very competitive and rich rebate on these promotions.”
To close out the 2020 Consumer Tire Business Meeting, a panel of Bridgestone leadership answered questions from the audience including those that related to sustainability, mobility solutions, supply and order fill issues, and the recent leadership changes within the organization and their impact on company goals and initiatives.
Paolo Ferrari, CEO & president, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. ended the program by reiterating its theme, “Today. Tomorrow. Together. We Thrive,” applauding his team and expressing appreciation for Bridgestone’s customers, emphasizing how the company is “laser-focused on your growth to ensure your future success as the world around us is evolving. We cannot achieve our vision without each of you…you are more than just customers, you are our business partners.”