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There are two kinds of knowledge said British poet and writer Samuel Johnson: We know something through direct experience, or where to find information about it. We had a chat with GfK that for 80 years has been turning big data into information and knowledge to provide customers with the opportunity to make decisions motivated by facts


Sabrina Negro

The growth of an activity cannot ignore the early identification of market trends in order to capture and exploit any opportunity and formulate strategies for the future. Collecting, selecting and processing information on market trends and consumers is the core business of GfK, the multinational group in the field of market research, which, thanks to its 360° worldwide market research offers reliable information to enable its customers to make effective decisions, based on facts and figures.

More than 13,000 market research experts combine passion and experience gained in 80 years of history. A mix that allows GfK to provide, in the over 100 countries in which it operates, strategic information and insight into every local market, enriched by a global vision and perspective.

Pneurama interviewed Ivano Garavaglia, Account Manager - Head of Automotive GfK Consumer Choices Italy, to find out more about this international reality and to get some data related to the performance of the tire market in 2014.


What is GfK’s mission and how is the organization structured?               

GfK's mission can be summarized in a few key words, which are the basic trust of the entire Group: Innovation, Expertise, Winning Strategies, Trust, Relation, Local and Global Market.

We use the most innovative technologies of investigation and are able to transform the large quantity of data gathered, in detailed analysis, enabling our customers to improve competitiveness and enrich consumer’s experience and choices.

There are two areas that cooperate globally, forming a single company: Consumer Choices and Consumer Experiences.

Through GfK Consumer Choices we supply information on what, when and where things are sold through a  continuous supervision of the media, both digital and traditional, and the main retailing networks. Consumer Choices focuses on 'Retail and Technology' supplying data on sales and on the characteristics of each component of the automotive sector, from technological consumer goods to the entertainment world. All useful information for our customers to identify the most appropriate strategies to address the many challenges posed by the market.

GfK Consumer Experience, on the other hand, focuses on psychographic research to answer the questions: who, what, why and how. Consumer Experience is able to analyze in depth the behavior, not just purchasing, the perceptions and orientations of the consumer-user through the most innovative approaches, like the TSSP (Total Single Source Panel), the most advanced platform of understanding the  relationships between individuals and old / new media, particularly in relation to the digital evolution.


What research is currently dealing with Automotive items sell-out?  

Globally GfK detects the Sell-Out of several Automotive products. The two main product categories monitored are tires and engine oils. The collection of data on the Sell-Out figures of these products is performed every month or every second month in about 30 countries worldwide.

Most of our customers operate globally, and therefore require adequate information. Thanks to the structure and working methods of GfK, we are able to provide fully comparable information in all the countries where we actively operate.


How is the tire Sell-Out recorded in Italy?                     

GfK Italy began recording tire sales in 2009. The research is active to date with the most important network for this market, "the tire specialists."

Thanks to agreements established with specialized tire dealers that cooperate in this research, we receive each month their Sell-Out data from their outlets. GfK has the know-how and technical competence to encode and statistically process that  huge amount of information, with the ultimate goal of transforming the data from each individual points of sale in strategic information relating to the total  Tire Specialists network.

GfK’s results, therefore, are not based on feelings about the evolution and performance of the market. On the contrary, it is an accurate statistical assessment of the Sell-Out recorded on a monthly basis from specialized dealers.

All this is "obviously" based on absolute confidentiality, which GfK guarantees to all tire dealers that cooperate with us. No one, outside GfK, will be able to know information about a single tire dealer or even whether a particular tire dealer cooperates or not with GfK. Each number, value or information that GfK provides always refers to the network of specialized tire specialists. No information can be traced back to the dealers engaged in the research.


Which type of tires are you currently monitoring in Italy?

The survey began in 2009 with car tires as well as 4x4 / SUV and Light Trucks. In July 2013 we also started monitoring truck tires, both new and retreads. Dating back a few months ago, and still being finalized, is the monitoring activity on Motorcycles and Scooters.


What information on the tire market are currently available?

The points of sale that collaborate with the GfK panel provide data for each item sold. This allows us to produce accurate data and information on the sales of individual products, on the trends of each market segment, on competition between brands,  market shares, distribution figures, the average sales prices, product availability etc.

It would be useful to point out that GfK detects and encodes each tire that passes through the premises of all the dealers engaged in the research, even all those lesser known brands or imports of which it is normally very difficult to know in detail the sales performance in our market.


How are these information available for the manufacturers as well as the dealers?

Manufacturing companies can purchase the reports, whereas for the distribution network things are done differently, we have a partnership. In view of their collaboration with the research team, we provide them with ad hoc reporting.


In conclusion, how did the market do in 2014?

From our estimates on the channel of tire specialists, the Sell-Out in volume recorded in 2014 was a positive + 1.1% compared to 2013, where by contrast the same trend was down by 2.3%. We are referring here to the total of three categories, Cars, 4x4 / SUV and Light Transport, which in 2014 had a Sell-Out share of, respectively, 88%, 6%, and 6%.

Unfortunately, in the last few months , from August to the end of the year, we have seen a sharp decline in the Sell-Out, with negative growth rates that have progressively reduced the good performance of the first part of the year. Notably, winter tires gave a negative contribution to the performance of the market in the latter part of the year.

During the final three months of the year, normally, Winter tires play a fundamental role. In recent years, these tires have consistently gained more weight in the Italian market. An ever greater number of drivers chose to buy winter tires, thanks to information campaigns on road safety and regulations on mandatory winter equipment. The weather conditions, which is an important factor to consider for the Sell-Out of this segment, however, were characterized by the onset of a fairly mild winter, too mild to generate a positive thrust in the winter segment. Adding up all these factors, the balance was unfortunately negative. The recorded Sell-Out for winter tires showed a decrease in 2014 compared to 2013.

Finally, we are currently witnessing a growing interest in all-season tires and as a result the competition is becoming fiercer in this segment. Although this segment is still marginal in terms of volume compared to the Winter segment, we are recording double digit growth rates in Sell-Out from different collection periods, which generated an overall growth of the segment of + 51% in 2014.

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