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A survey on the sector’s hottest issues

Listed below are the results of a survey that our magazine made among tire specialist retailers during the last Autopromotec event to receive a feedback on some of the sector’s hottest issues. The initiative included interviews with retailers based on a questionnaire made up of a number of topics raised by readers to our editorial staff

Luca Ricci

Who would not like to have a superhero ready to help us in dealing with our daily issues? This common desire inspired a market survey, organized by Pneurama during the last Autopromotec 2015 event, among tire dealers on very serious matters for the whole category, but in a lighter mood and, why not, with a little irony.


An actor, hired by us, played the part of Superpneurama, the super hero that, since the beginning of the year, has been featured on the cover of our magazine, who, accompanied by a fellow super heroine, carried out a survey among retailers attending the event through a questionnaire based on the most topical issues for the business. Superpneurama represents the willingness of the entire sector to bring out in the open and address the issues that concern it.


The survey was performed among retailers who made themselves available at the Pneurama stand and specifically at Superpneurama’s designated post. Certainly not a scientific approach, yet an interesting test for a constructive exchange of opinions.


A hundred specialists, well distributed throughout the country, took part in the survey, receiving a useful gift. Extremely interesting was the fact that the North (45%), Center (23%) and South of the country were proportionally represented with as many as 32% of all respondents coming from the South, a proof of how the Bologna trade show registers a significant turnout from the southern regions as well. About a third of all respondents are associated with Federpneus. 72% were independent retailers with the remaining 28% affiliated to a network.


As a first indication, it was interesting to note that 89% of all respondents deemed as necessary the restoration of a minimal list of required equipment revoked by the decree "Salva Italia", Law 22 December 2011, n° 214, with the result that from that moment on, repairers can freely choose the necessary equipment for their activities. Respondents expressed a desire for initiatives aimed at protecting the category against trade improvisers. A confirmation of this was found in the next question on the need to raise the bar to protect the profession: only 11% believe that it is not necessary to limit free access to the profession. Reliability and quality of service as perceived by the end user would be, in their opinion, sufficiently discriminating in regulating the market.


Obviously, questions on TPMS sensors, the hot topic of the industry, could not miss. Despite an initial feeling of bewilderment, the information and training activities performed by the sector’s specialists (as much as 60% of respondents have already attended a training course on the subject and of the remaining 40% as much as 60 would be interested in attending one) seems to have convinced retailers that this type of operation is a great business opportunity, although the “Sufficiently” box on the questionnaire received  most of the positive responses compared to the box "Highly". The general feeling is that this job will produce positive results in the long run.


Assuming that 72% of the sample identified itself as an independent dealer, the remaining 28% revealed an interesting picture about the perceived advantages and disadvantages of being a network member.

A substantial equality prevailed among those who believe that affiliation to a network does not compromise independence (with 20% checking the “not at all” box and 27% the “very little” box) and those who see membership as a constraint to its operational independence (39% checked the ”fairly” box while 13% checked the “very” box) as well as among those who think that the conditions and costs of membership are “bland” (14%) or “not severe” (33%) and those who consider them “fairly” (40%) or even “very” (10%) burdensome. Widely appreciated was the return in terms of image and the ability to get training, conventions and value-added services, while, as far as being able to get the best trading conditions, percentages of consensus were slightly lower.


A market review

Despite the period of economic difficulties, the prevailing feeling among respondents was that of a stable market, followed by those who believe that the trend is currently positive again with the exception of the retread segment, which recorded rather cautious answers.

On the performance of seasonal tire change, the answers confirmed the trend. If on the one hand more cautious opinions were expected, the "good" and "stable" boxes on the questionnaire were checked by approximately two-thirds of the respondents, a noteworthy result remembering how the geographical origin of retailers surveyed is very different.

Data on performance are even clearer. According to the survey, the category is becoming more and more aware of the fact that future profitability will depend on performance.

One of the most anticipated responses saw all-season tires under the spotlight, in order to understand whether they were perceived as a threat or an opportunity for the category. About half of the respondents were quite indifferent to the introduction of all-season tires, a sign that there is still no clear indication on what the effects might be, following a market share increase of this product. Nevertheless, two-thirds of the retailers interviewed agreed that the seasonal tire change is a double advantage for the category.

But what are the potential threats to the tire retailing business? VAT evasion tops the list, while the issue around the evasion of EOL contribution or “ecotax” is perceived to be less severe. Other threatening situations, on the other hand, are probably influenced by specific local business situations.

Let us bear in mind that the survey was not in any way influenced. Responses were collected through a questionnaire on tablets.

While the interview had no scientific presumption, the fact of getting a hundred spontaneous and congruent responses to the questions provides further food for thought, and shows the sector’s great desire for improvement. It is up to all the sector’s specialists, including dealers, to become aware of the need for constant development, providing all the necessary instruments to ensure that this process continues, towards the goal of a healthier market.


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