Apollo Launches New TBR Range with Unique Digital Marketing Approach
Apollo Tyres used the occasion of the Commercial Vehicle Show to announce the launch of a project three years in the making – the introduction of the company’s new truck and bus radial tyre range for the European market. The European market has been awaiting the Indian manufacturer’s entry into the European TBR segment for some time. However, it was not merely the range of tyres that drew the attention of the press to the Apollo stand at the NEC, nor was it simply the presence of Manchester United legend Gary Pallister and the EFL Cup on the stand. What made the launch of Apollo’s new truck and bus tyre range particularly newsworthy was the unique and ground-breaking business model announced by the company, which focused on an exclusively digital go-to-market approach.
Apollo is, in fact, announced that they were becoming the first tyre manufacturer to sell direct and exclusively online, via a dedicated website www.ApolloTyresDirect.com. The aim, of the direct approach to market, explained the company, was to assure that performance could be disconnected from high costs and that Apollo could keep pricing lean and simple.
With the new truck and bus tyre range tyres are sold directly, and online, with transparent pan-European pricing, leaving out anything the customer does not need or does not wish to pay for. The system is easy to understand and easy to manage within an online account, with no complicated rebates or discounts.
According to Marco Paracciani, Apollo’s Chief Retail and Marketing Officer, Apollo’s transparent prices are based on order volume, delivery slot and payment method, with customers creating a personalised price based on their needs. So, for example, the larger the order, the greater the savings because logistics costs can be optimised. Ordering over ten days in advance also earns an extra discount for the same reason, and collecting directly from the Hamburg warehouse means customers do not pay for delivery at all. In addition, further discounts are offered for orders with 30 days’ notice, thanks to improved production planning, whilst prices can also be adjusted depending on whether the customer wishes to pay in advance or on credit. The minimum order is 6 tyres, with different discount levels for 6-12, 13-25, 26-100 and 100+ tyres. “Smaller retailers can benefit from this arrangement,” says Paracciani, “it can help them compete with larger players.”
Even though the process is completely online, Paracciani emphasised that Apollo provides a support team to answer any question and provide help, wherever customers may be.
The company’s new Truck and Bus Radial (TBR) Tyre range covers 80% of segment-specific product sizes in Europe as its focus is on both regional/national and mixed (on/off road) product applications.
The Regional segment is served by the new Endu™Race range, and Mixed segment by the new Endu™Trax. Both product names include a suffix that indicates the recommended axle position for the tyre.
Specifically designed for medium and long distance trips, the Apollo EnduRace tyre range is ideal for use on regional, national and international roads and includes 16 fitments addressing all axle positions.
Meanwhile, the EnduTrax tyre range is perfect for medium and short distance trips that include construction sites or hazardous terrain. The Trax family will initially consist of four SKUs addressing Steer and Drive axle positions, with more sizes to come later in 2017 (including a mixed-use Trailer tyre).
All tyres in the new range are EU compliant and come with five years’ warranty against manufacturing defects.
Long haul tyres are not currently in the range, but the company says it will expand into this area over time.
In developing the new range for the European market, Apollo says it enlisted the help of over 50 European fleets over a period of several months (in some cases years), testing almost 2500 tyres and driving 250 million kilometres across six European countries. A range of different fleet types were used from different parts of Europe. The results, says the company, have been impressive with Apollo TBR tyres achieving 90%-110% mileage versus the best-in-class tyres.
This, however, is no surprise to Apollo as Group Head of Global Product Management Commercial Vehicles Benoit Rivallant explains;
“Apollo TBR is a premium performance product designed and developed to provide performance on a par with the best in class. These results,” he adds, “have been achieved by focusing on a number of important aspects: the rubber compound is designed for specific usage, driving conditions and axle position. Apollo tyres have a large contact patch with uniform distribution, self-cleaning blocks and high tread stability ensuring an even wear. These features ensure that the tyres offer maximum life, making them a low breakdown risk (when used in the recommended application).”
All tyres in the range are re-grooveable and re-treadable, with each tyre having a potential of up to four lives. With this in mind, the company is introducing retreading programmes in conjunction with Vacu-Lug in the UK and the Kargro Group in continental Europe. For customers who do not wish to re-tread, there is a guaranteed casing buy-back option.
The new tyres will initially be supplied from Apollo’s plant in Chennai but from 2018 they will also be supplied from Apollo’s new plant in Hungary.
Clearly launching new tyre rage entirely via the web is a unique and challenging process – so how is Apollo attempting to get its message across to fleets and tyre dealers alike? According to Marco Paracciani, Apollo will be conducting a mail campaign to promote the new range and will aslo be contacting both fleets and retailers by digital methods. They will also be sending out coupons offering promotions on initial orders. The company will also be trying to make the best use of its branding partnership with Manchester United in order to raise awareness of the brand. Apollo Tyres is currently the official ‘Global Tyre Partner’ for Manchester United football club.
Apollo’s new truck and bus range focuses on the most popular and essential sizes in the Regional and Mixed segments, points out the company, but more investment has been made in new sizes and ranges which will be added in the near future. “The majority of truck and bus needs are covered by the range,” concludes the company, “yet such a lean strategy ensures that the tyres are cost-effective to produce, stock and deliver: all benefits which are then passed on to the customer. The result is high performance, for a competitive price.”