The COVID-19 chaos plunged global markets into a sea of uncertainty, leaving lots of companies and organisations picking up the pieces as they surveyed the damage. The tyre industry luckily was one that underpinned agriculture and logistics solutions as the demand levels for every day necessities were satisfied, and supermarket shelves were kept full. In August, Commercial Tyre Business spoke to Galaxy’s Business Development Manager for Western Europe, Pravin Job and Julia Verbunt, PR and Communications Manager Europe for Alliance Tire Group (ATG) as they explained how Galaxy’s strategy of offering “The Lowest Total Cost of Ownership” solution has allowed them to grow and focus on their core strengths and competences during this time.
Commercial Tyre Business Interview Pravin Job from Galaxy
According to Pravin, “Galaxy has seen COVID as an opportunity not only to stabilise the business, but also to grow in multiple markets across Europe. We have to be very thankful to the ATG factories during this time as they have done a fantastic job in Israel and India in continuing to produce tyres on time and according to the requirements of customers.”
Starting with ROTR (radial off-the-road) tyres, Galaxy’s OTR range, which offers both conventional or radial options, has for a sustained period of time, been fitted to Articulated Dump Trucks, Wheel Loaders and Rigid Dump Trucks. Considering the Western European market is one which is predominantly radialised, Galaxy has a range which spans from 17.5 to 29.5 for E3/L3 to E4/L4 tyres demands.
Pravin Job expanded, “We have Loader, Dumper and Grader tyres in sizes that cover up to 80% of the France, UK, Germany and Benelux market demands.
Galaxy has historically been a preferred choice of many OE (original equipment) manufactures of Telehandlers and Skid Steer machines. This expertise has been beneficial for Galaxy, with Job highlighting how they have converted one of their popular product called HULK into a solid tyre.
The Galaxy Solid Tyre range which covers extensively fork-lift, POB, skid steers, wheel loaders and telehandlers tyres, was recently afforded a further boost when an extended 60 Months warranty was announced in April 2020, which has given the opportunity to benefit from what Job refers to as a “token of excellence” and goes a step further in enhancing their customer confidence
Moving onto port tyres, the Business Development Manager for Galaxy clarified, “Our team has taken our port tyres into some of the leading 4/5 OE manufacturers of reach stackers in the world. There are very few companies that can offer bias and radial tyres in ports. Galaxy is very good in bias tyres, and we are getting better in radial tyres and adding one by one after rigorous testing.”
In the Ground Support Equipment Tire sector, a sector which demands specific tyres for specific applications, and one which, considering Galaxy’s strategy of delivering product quality for every niche, the company should be ideally prepared for, Job revealed that some tyres are being tested at airports currently and that they are awaiting results.
This abundant portfolio is all part of the company’s strategy to deliver a “one-stop solution”. This wealth of products, according to Job, has come about by necessity, as Galaxy being imported and distributed by its partners seeking these wide solutions. Customers can purchase multiple Galaxy products through single order, benefiting from all the experience and quality assurances, which combine to delivers the best customer value and offers what Job calls “the smart choice”.
New Product Development
You would be forgiven for thinking that with a product range as abundant as that of Alliance and Galaxy, new offerings wouldn’t be on the horizon, but you would be wrong. In 2020 alone in the industrial segment, ATG has rolled out the new Alliance 321 Plus and Galaxy Mighty Trac patterns, an expansion to its Galaxy Yardmaster series, an extension to its tyre range for telehandlers, not to mention various new launches for the agricultural application.
However, this doesn’t tell the whole story, Job explains, “Every other day, we are launching a new SKU. In 2020, we have already launched hundreds of units into the market, and we are still coming out with more. In the coming months, we expect to release over a 100 of new sizes in the Solid Forklift segment alone.”
In Job’s eyes this is what marks a key difference between ‘Galaxy and the competition. “The difference is that many tyre manufactures go for the most popular sizes, whereas when we develop a pattern, we launch a variety of sizes, not just the most popular ones, but also the niche ones, and that gives added value to the customers and additionally the distribution partners.”
Building Brand Portfolio
Job adds, “We are looking to focus on brand portfolio, and this focus has intensified since The Yokohama Rubber company took over ATG. Yokohama is a premium brand with 100 years of experience working as a quality brand, and Galaxy had an instant face lift becoming a part of it. The Galaxy brand has been given a key edge in quality perception and core competences as well.
“Both companies actively engage in R&D, production and cost-effective solutions, and with this we have made the best total cost solution for the channels and end users.”
How is such an extensive and varied product offering that differs according to market and region supported at a marketing level? The answer is one that beats to the same rhythm as Galaxy’s approach to their product development. Niche product offerings require tailored marketing to bring success.
Galaxy’s Tailored Marketing Working Harmoniously with Niche Product Offering
Galaxy has a central marketing team in India as well as regional marketing teams throughout the markets in which it operates, but a key component of the operation is the European marketing team located in Amsterdam, which collaborates with every single distributor. With their regional partners (the importers) being key stakeholders in their business model, this marketing team collaborate closely and contribute to these players. With a multitude of distributors and partners in each market and segment, there is a sizeable operational task on hand as each distributor wants to adapt to its format, leading to customisation by market, by distributor and by segment. Whilst it is a vast challenge to undertake, this does have its benefits in guaranteeing a tailored local marketing approach, which is exactly what niche products require.
Moreover, this adaptation to the distribution segment also must consider the importance of product marketing. Julia Verbunt, the PR & Communications Manager Europe said, “Considering the plethora of products offered by Alliance and Galaxy, which have so many different USPs, sometimes even the customers find it difficult to identify the core competences of the tyre. This has meant that ATG has to carry out knowledge-based trainings for the distributors and partners about the key selling points of a tyre.”
And how do ATG see the positioning of the Galaxy brand? They are keen to promote the lowest cost of ownership of a tyre, i.e. a high-quality product for a value price.
Verbunt expanded on this, “It’s important to clarify the positioning of the Galaxy brand. In terms of performance and quality, we can compete with the premium brands, and we outperform them in terms of cost efficiency. Galaxy offers high quality tires at an interesting price point. This is where we have an advantage for an end user during the corona crisis. Everyone is impacted, but there is an opportunity to gain a market share not only from the similar value brands but also from the premium competition.”
Distributor and Partner Strategy: “Generalists” vs “Specialists”
In the days leading up to our interview, Galaxy had announced a distribution agreement with Jason’s Tyres who are distributing the entire portfolio of both bias and radial OTR tyres in the earthmoving segment in Benelux. Taking the announcement into account, it seemed opportune to find out more about Galaxy’s strategy for selecting distributors and what they are looking for in partners.
Job started by stating that Galaxy are looking at their distributors as two groups what he refers to as “Generalists” and “Specialists”. In his words, the generalists are big importers of all products mix who sell via their partner dealer outlets, whereas the specialists work with the minute niche segments and contractors and have know-how of who use the special tyres of machines that are difficult markets for tyre manufacturers to get into.
Job added, “In order for us to reach all corners of the solids market it’s important to have a few distributors. We see specialists working in a 200km-300km radius starting from the tire fitment to the scrap management providing the complete solution. We are looking for more specialists in France, the UK and Germany for Solids Forklift, loaders and ROTR who can allow us to reach these niche segments and service them correctly, as these individuals can enhance the product to market.”