Play to Strength
Pirelli Explains New Marketing Plan, Unveils Two New Tire Lines in Milan
Armed with a new strategy and new products, Pirelli Tire North America (PTNA) hosted some 50 dealer customers and prospects at its parent company’s Milan, Italy, home. The two-day dealer meeting included a look at Pirelli’s tightened North American marketing focus and its automated MIRS production process, and on-track testing of its latest tires.
PTNA said it will focus on the segments where it can best compete – high performance and light truck/SUV tires – and is centralizing distribution through tire dealers. Earlier this year, PTNA discontinued selling tires to mass merchants and price clubs.
The marketing shift is part of a three-year global strategy Pirelli unveiled in late April, said Francesco Gori, president of Pirelli Tyre Holdings NV, the parent company’s tire arm. PTNA has some 400 dealers in the U.S., and is selectively looking for additional dealers to bolster distribution.
"We will focus on the independent tire dealer and on being selective within that channel, and we plan to stay away from channel conflicts," which will help boost the value and profitability of the brand, Gori noted.
Pirelli’s new consumer-based segmentation strategy, coupled with its Modular Integrated Robotized System (MIRS) production facility in Rome, Ga., will allow PTNA to double its sales within three years, he said.
Gaetano Mannino, president of PTNA, said the new U.S. MIRS production facility and the new market focus has Pirelli "very well positioned for the future." Visiting dealers got a first-hand look at MIRS with a tour of Pirelli’s technical center in Milan.
With the July 1 end of its alliance with Cooper, PTNA will re-assume responsibility for its own field sales and customer service efforts. For now, an expanded customer service team and more extensive use of the Internet will supplement PTNA’s relatively small field sales force. Mannino said PTNA’s existing "Dealer Club" Web site would be expanded, and a new Extranet, launching in July, will allow dealers to order and track shipments, receive shipping notices and handle all billing online.
PTNA is also launching a national ad campaign in traditional trade and car magazines, as well as upscale non-auto publications.
The new U.S. MIRS facility allows PTNA to add modules quickly to increase production "without interruption or intervention," said Mannino. And the tire uniformity provided by MIRS will help Pirelli meet OE requirements, he said.
Visiting dealers got to test the new P6 Four Seasons and Euphoria run-flat tires at Pirelli’s test center in Vizzola, and learn about Pirelli’s new Tyre Systems unit, which is developing the tiremaker’s version of an "intelligent tire system."
Pirelli developed a light weight tire sensor that adheres to the inside of a tire which can report tire pressure levels and temperatures to an in-car monitor. The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) sensors will also carry tire identification information, including the vehicle make/model to which the tire has been fitted.
The rechargeable monitor won’t be hard-wired to the vehicle, and will have "black box" capability. Pirelli said its TPMS will be available on the replacement market in less than a year, and the tiremaker is working with OEMs to integrate the system in new vehicles.
Pirelli wants to tie its TPMS to run-flat tires, though it can be used with any tire. Run-flats, Pirelli said, will make up 10% of the global ultra-high performance segment within three years.
Pirelli unveiled its new P6 Four Seasons and P Zero Nero lines at the event. The H-, V- and W-speed-rated P6 Four Seasons is available in a dozen P-metric 15- to 17-inch, 45- to 60-series sizes.
Focused on the tuner market, the asymmetric P Zero Nero features 14 V-, W- and Z-rated sizes – including four extra load sizes – for 16- to 19-inch applications. Fourteen other sizes, including eight extra load sizes, are planned.
Pirelli plans other new tires this year, including the Scorpion Ice & Snow and an all-season Scorpion line.