Can you please give us some general information about yourself and how you became a part of the industry?
I joined Goodyear in 2008 as Commercial Manager GCC markets where I was managing the truck tire business. In 2010 I took over the role of General Sales Director for Mediterranean & Northern African countries for both consumer and truck tire business, to name a few I was managing markets such as Egypt, Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia.
After 4 years in the role of General Sales Director I was moved to Sweden as Director of Commercial Product Business Unit for Nordic countries and led the operations of Truck & OTR tires distribution for entire region. In January 2018 I was appointed as the General Manager for Goodyear Middle East & Africa region.
I found the tire industry to be very dynamic and quite mobile as you find yourself traveling between different markets – meeting with partners, understanding the vehicle parc as it is unique to each geography. I have always had a passion to explore new markets and understand different business requirements.
Which are the most popular Goodyear tires in Middle East?
The popularity of Goodyear tires is based on the required application in the region, for example Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 offers superior handing at high speeds with short braking distance and responsiveness, while the EfficientGrip Performance is popular among passenger vehicles that require dry road performance and fuel efficiency.
On the other side of the spectrum we have the EfficientGrip SUV a multi terrain tire for SUV’s that offers short branding distance, comfortable silent drive on road and is also capable of performing in the desert. Then we have the Wrangler MT/R for off-road enthusiasts, a tire with exception performance off-road and durability.
Whom would you say is the typical customer for Goodyear tires in the region? Who are your target audience when it comes to marketing campaigns?
As mentioned earlier our customer base is as diverse as the required application of the tires, our product line up covers all the key fitments across the Middle East and offer features and benefits that sets up apart from the competition, very few premium tire manufacturers have such a diverse product portfolio. Having said that, our typical customer is one that is prepared to pay more for high quality products and will never compromise their own, and their family’s safety.
Our marketing campaigns are usually centered around the dealer and retail network for passenger tires, although this year we are looking into focusing further on end-users in select markets.
How do customer preferences vary across the different markets in the Middle East and how different is the Middle East market from other key global markets like Sweden or China or United States? Does Goodyear have any tires that were developed specifically for sale in the Middle East?
Customers preference in the Middle East is usually driven by the OE tire that their vehicle is equipped with. Within the GCC markets the preference is not very different as the vehicle parc is quite similar.
In Europe, majority of the brands are European while the Middle East is mainly driven by Asian tire brands. European markets are relatively stable, however with less opportunity due to market saturation, Middle East brings great opportunities although a lot of economic, political challenges also.
For the Middle East our passenger tires product lineup comprises of European, American and Asian production, given the diverse vehicle parc. The Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV was developed to suite GCC vehicle parc and working conditions, hence it offers the best performance to end uses weather it is on highways, graded roads or sand.
When it comes to tires, the GCC region has become one in which tire labelling standards and production dates have become increasingly important. What is Goodyear’s take on this approach?
Goodyear tires comply with GCC regulations related to GSO and SASO standards for safety and labeling. Our tires have very good performance for WG and RR label grades. Similarly, for production dates, Goodyear complies with GSO regulation for DOT at importation and retails levels.
The automotive industry is one that has gone through a lot of transition in recent years including the advent of the concepts of car sharing, electric mobility and autonomous vehicles. What are the technological innovations that Goodyear has developed in recent years in line with the rapid technological advances in recent years?
Goodyear has been a leader in innovation for the past 120 years, we partner with automotive manufacturers to develop tires for their future vehicles utilizing state-of-the-art technologies.
Our R&D team places a strong focus on technology and is constantly working on breakthrough technology in tires. An example we introduced our latest concept tire at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show the Goodyear AERO. The Goodyear AERO concept is a two-in-one tire designed for the autonomous, flying cars of the future. This concept would work both as a tire for driving on the road and a “propeller” for flying through the sky.
Meanwhile at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show, we introduced a concept tire named Oxygene. This concept quite literally brings the future of mobility to life as a visionary solution for cleaner, safer and more sustainable urban mobility. It has a unique structure that features living moss growing within the sidewall. This open structure and the tire’s smart tread design absorb and circulate moisture and water from the road surface, allowing photosynthesis to occur and therefore releasing oxygen into the air.
Based on your experience in this market, how important is customer service and what measures have you taken to improve customer service?
Good customer service is a critical success factor for any business regardless of geography. We have seen in recent times specifically in GCC markets that customers are becoming more conscious on the value they receive from their tire purchase, rightfully so in our case as they are paying for a premium tire and expect premium service in return. To offer best in class services to our customers we have partnered up with long established businesses across key markets to offer that value.
Can you tell us more about a few marketing initiatives that you have carried out in recent years to increase sales in the short-term and long-term?
Our most recent marketing initiative was on 28th March this year in United Arab Emirates; the Goodyear SUV & 4×4 event. This was an outdoor event where we hosted around 60 dealers and distributors altogether from UAE and Saudi Arabia.
We wanted to reiterate the value proposition of our SUV & 4×4 product line up in Middle East versus our competitors. Our partners got the opportunity experience our products first hand with a driving experience which included the EfficientGrip SUV, a key pattern in the region for SUVs covering fitments such as Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol. We received very positive feedback from our partners on the event especially the driving experience which will no doubt support both short- and long-term sales for all.
What support do you extend to your distributors in terms of training and education?
We have a dedicated training department for our distributors and customer. The role of this department is to offer training full year around across various subjects such as products, business, technical skills and others.
Sponsorships and participation in events all help to promote brand awareness. Are there any events or partnerships which you have taken up to increase the reach of your brands?
Our sponsorships are mainly driven by our European office such as Geneva International Motor Show, although we have been known to participate in events such as Cairo Motor Show in the past among others.
Fuel efficiency has become quite important in recent years. What advances has Goodyear made in recent years to help lower fuel consumption?
As mentioned earlier our R&D team is always striving to make new technological advancements, fuel efficiency is a key topic of interest for us. In the past decade we have made several advances in terms of technology our key patterns in the region such as the EfficientGrip lineup is equipped with WearControl Technology which reduced rolling resistance thereby offering better fuel efficiency, this is just an example of one of the technologies there are many other patterns with similar benefits.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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