Every tire comes with tradeoffs. And that isn’t ideal for drivers, who tend to ask a lot of their tires. Drivers want year-round performance, but all-season tires aren’t sufficient in wintry conditions. Drivers want winter safety, but winter tires wear quickly and perform poorly in summer temperatures. All-weather tires offer drivers a compromise option – a year-round tire with the three-peak mountain snowflake emblem. But like any compromise, all-weather tires aren’t a one-size-fits-all answer either. They aren’t as extreme as a winter tire in snow and ice, and they don’t typically last as long as an all-season tire.
So, who is the right audience for all-weather tires? And how can dealers persuade those customers to opt for this increasingly popular product? That’s a question we discuss a lot at Nokian Tyres. We introduced the all-weather passenger tire to the North American market in 1999, and we just launched the sixth generation of the segment, the Nokian Tyres Remedy WRG5.
Qualifying the customer
To market all-weather products like the Remedy WRG5 successfully to consumers, dealers have to walk a tightrope. They don’t want to cannibalize winter sales by downgrading customers who need extreme snow and ice performance, but they also want to sell the benefits of a year-round driving solution to all-season drivers who could use an upgrade.
To find that balance, dealers can use the danger of averages. If an all-season tire is good for the average consumer, that means there are areas in the U.S. and Canada where an all-season tire isn’t the best option. An all-weather product is an ideal compromise for drivers who visit winter or have winter visit them – or drivers who are good candidates for winter tires but insist on sticking to one set per year.
Education starts with the counter worker
Nearly 75% of all-season drivers feel unsafe on the road at least a few times each winter, according to a study Nokian Tyres commissioned. In that same survey, only 30% of drivers correctly identified the chief benefit – winter performance – of all-weather tires over all-season.
Add the fact that the terms “all-season” and “all-weather” sound similar and are often used interchangeably, and counter workers have a challenge on their hands.
Consumers don’t have the time or desire to learn about the features and benefits of every single tire. People at the sales counter need to know their stuff. A better-educated consumer starts with a fully educated dealer. It’s up to dealers to make a recommendation, back up that recommendation with short answers that are truthful and display the confidence they have in the recommendation they’re making.
For all-weather tires, that means clearly differentiating the segment from its all-season counterpart.
Selling a different experience
That difference lies in the experience a driver will have on all-weather tires versus all-season products.
The way we talk to the consumer has to relate to their specific experiences. If an all-season driver voices a fear of winter conditions, all-weather tires are a great alternative. Meanwhile, winter tires might be ideal for some drivers, but if they aren’t looking for two sets of tires, they should consider all-weather tires because of their winter benefits.
Explaining how that shift in performance benefits safety in the worst driving conditions can convince customers to choose all-weather tires. There is no shortcut. It’s about understanding a customer’s needs, being educated on the all-weather segment and selling them a tire that meets their individual concerns.
For a growing number of drivers, that product will be an all-weather tire.
Steve Bourassa is the Nokian Tyres North America Director of Products and Pricing.