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Tire Labeling Beginning to have Effect

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There are already signs that European tire labeling is having an effect on the purchasing decisions of consumers, that’s the view of Continental representatives shared at the company at its recent annual trends briefing in London. Conti’s reading of market response to labeling follows a number of different view proffered by other manufacturer, supplier and retail sources. So far much of the data has suggested that the label is unused or unoffered and so therefore doesn’t have much influence.

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Interestingly, Conti qualifies its conclusions with two important distinctions: 1) We are mid tire replacement cycle – consumers buy tires every two years on average and so we haven’t had long enough for the market to have actually been to the tireshop since legislation (something which is exacerbating by hypermiling consumers and part worn sales) and 2) we should be looking where label info is most prominent – online. True only roughly 8% of tire buyers complete their transactions online, but when you consider the fact that the vast majority of consumers are doing their tire research virtually and that tire retailers are already showing label values, this is an under-reported and significant perspectives.

Asked whether this was yet having an impact market segmentation, Conti representatives said that within the dealerships the all-around performance of the premium tire still seems to be the main buying criteria. However, the quality segment continues to come under the greatest pressure, this segment has struggled to maintain share as a result of aggressive pricing strategies at both ends of the market. It seems the term squeezed middle applies to tire market statistics as much as middle-income families.

Market unaware

Still, the majority of British motorists are either unaware of the EU tire labeling regulations or do not accurately understand what is covered a year after they were introduced, according to research for Continental Tires. Some 2,000 drivers were questioned for Continental Tires as part of their regular research into attitudes to tire buying and road safety.

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When asked to name the categories on tire labels, some 59% said stopping distance/grip on dry roads was included when it does not form part of the product characteristics disclosed on the label. The stopping distance/grip on wet roads was correctly identified by 56% of respondents followed by fuel economy (rolling resistance) and external noise.

For more than a third (37%) an MOT failure is the most likely prompt for changing tires. Some six in ten will shop around for the best prices on tires. A lack of confidence in buying tires is revealed as 42% of people either get someone to do it for them or enlist someone to go with them to offer support. One in four respondents wrongly identified one of the categories on tire labels as the distance the tire would last.

The external noise of a tire – one of the three categories covered by the EU label – ranked only tenth in the list of priorities motorists had when then considered what tires to select.

The study asked people to rank their priorities when it comes to buying tires – motorists listed what is important to them as follows:

1.Stopping distance/grip on wet roads

2.How many miles a tire will last

3.Fuel economy

4.Stopping distance/grip on dry roads

5.That is comes from a dealer I trust

6.That it is the cheapest I can get

7.That it is a brand I have heard of

8.That it is a premium brand

9.No idea about buying criteria

10.The noise the tire makes on the outside of the car

Laura Hardy, spokesperson for Continental Tires, said: “With so many different products on sale and with such a range in performance it is really important that motorists are better informed when it comes to deciding what tires to choose as it directly affects their safety.”

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In the study, motorists told the researchers that grip in wet conditions was their first consideration when buying tires. Laura Hardy added: “Given how important tire performance on wet roads is in terms of stopping distances it is reassuring that drivers see this characteristic as the primary consideration for them. Though if tens of millions of people are not aware or don’t understand the new labels, then the risk is they are not getting what they want. At Continental, we believe when people understand the performance characteristics of different tires – they make buying decisions with safety in mind.” (Tyres & Accessories)

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