For the most part, consumers buy tires because they’re necessary. As such, they already differ from lifestyle products, and it’s often price that counts more than cachet. Many tire consumers are price-shoppers.
But when it comes to UHP (Ultra-High Performance) tires and their higher price points, pinning your marketing on pricing is a mistake. With any luxury good, wellheeled clients expect prices to reflect quality; in fact, they tend to mistrust too-low prices. They also like exclusivity, so crowded flyers or websites with every possible model aren’t likely to make the right impression.
“At all of our stores, we emphasize the importance of putting the right set of tires on your car. Most of what we sell is highperformance, and it’s important that our customers understand that when the time comes to replace tires, their rubber should be of equal calibre to the car they’re putting it on,” says Laurance Yap, Director of Marketing for Pfaff Automotive Partners, an Ontario-based group whose dealerships include McLaren, Porsche and Pagani. “The manufacturer’s own stamp of approval, such as Porsche’s N-rating, is also important to our messaging.”
“Let’s be honest—the low-end stuff sells itself,” says Christian Marineau, Marketing Co-ordinator for Fastco. “We just stock it and it sells.”
Joint marketing efforts
Segment-specific marketing can get expensive, but retailers can ask their manufacturers about partnering up to help offset promo costs through joint events.
“As a group, we have a marketing partnership with Pirelli,” Yap says. “They’ve been a great partner for us and we do some very creative things together.
Beyond the usual point of sale material in the dealerships, Pirelli and Pfaff have a promotional Porsche Cayman wrapped in Pirelli livery that gets displayed at various events, and Pirelli-uniformed staff at our Formula 1 party in Montreal. We also cooperate on our track days program (all our track rental cars wear Pirelli rubber), and operate the Pfaff test track at the Georgian College auto show.”
While a small shop is not going to have that same degree of purchasing power, partnerships on a smaller scale are possibilities. “Now and then, we will partner up with a dealer to promote their business at car shows and trade shows,” says Marineau. “We help them promote themselves so they can sell on the spot, and we split the cost of promotions.”
Selling quality with quality
Marketing materials for high-end products should reflect the quality of the products, for example by using quality paper stock for print materials and uncluttered, easyto- navigate web layouts. When it comes to your digital component, be where luxury buyers are. In 2015, Pew Research released research that says those in higher-income households are more likely to use social media; likewise those with higher educations.
A couple of years ago, Ipsos and Google teamed up to research how affluent consumers shop for high-end fashion, accessories and jewelry, and some of what they learned translates well to the UHP tire market: luxury buyers are very digital-savvy (they do their research online far more often than through TV, radio, newspapers or magazines) and most are multi-screen users. That means your mobile site has to be up to scratch.
More affluent buyers expect to pay a fair price for quality goods, and they also expect to pay for professionalism, so stress those qualities in your UHP marketing. In return they demand nothing less than excellence in customer service. That means some of the best practices for the UHP tire market are no different from any other segment: minimize wait times, follow through on commitments and be unfailingly polite.