Following the tie-up of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd (SRI) with Liverpool FC through the Falken brand, Stamford Tyres (M) Sdn Bhd has leveraged massively on the partnership to create unique experiences for the fans and drivers in the country.
“We have organised a series of activities such as Liverpool FC vs Stoke City Viewing Party and ‘Win Yourself A Trip To Liverpool UK’ contest to treat local fans and drivers as well as open new opportunities to ‘brand-up’ the Falken name. The new Azenis FK510 arrived at the right time, which would definitely help us increase Falken’s brand image,” said Cham Soon Kian, CEO of Stamford Tyres Malaysia.
Cham described the new FK510 as the best ultra-high performance (UHP) tyre that SRI had ever produced. He pointed out that Falken was a global brand first launched in 1983 by SRI and today, Falken was a stand-alone brand that focused on all the range of comfort, high and ultra-high performance products.
“Falken still has not reached the brand equity and strength level that the major brands are enjoying but SRI is working to make Falken a strong brand personality with a focus on technology, excitement and lifestyle. We never had a product that was strong enough for us to compete in the UHP segment. The new FK510 offers a balance of performance, shorter braking distance, superior ride comfort and quietness. With this new product that boasts performance that is on par with the other brands of UHP tyres, we are getting closer to the major brands. We are confident that the attractive pricing from RM400 would definitely draw consumers’ attention.”
Connection with Consumers
Satoru Ushida, Sumitomo Rubber Asia (Tyre) Pte Ltd Managing Director, added that Falken was relatively young compared to the other tyre brands that had a hundred or more years of heritage. “We are differentiating ourselves from the others through the ethos of high technology and excitement, and we want to create an emotional connection with consumers. To achieve this, we are actively involved in motor sports supporting drifting drivers, being a sponsoring partner of Red Bull Air Race pilot Yoshihide Muroya since 2015, and the latest being the global partner of Liverpool Football Club.”
Commenting on the partnership, Ushida said Liverpool FC was the leading football club in Europe and the team had as many as 771 million fans, including a lot of enthusiastic supporters not only in Europe but also Asia. He explained that ‘Forever young, Always true’ was Falken brand philosophy and it complemented well with Liverpool FC’s concept. Furthermore, both parties shared the same values in attitude and performance.
“We would like to project Falken’s energy, excitement and sports image through the Club. This partnership is particularly helpful not only in furthering drive awareness among young followers but also growing popularity as well as positioning.”
Ushida stressed that Malaysia was an important market for SRI. He said SRI established its first overseas sales company, Sumitomo Rubber Asia (Tyre) Pte Ltd, in Singapore in 2002 and since then, the company had identified Malaysia as one of its key markets. “Malaysia boasts the 3rd largest automobile market in the region but it is the toughest market for us. It is very challenging; there are many brands fighting for market share.”
Cham added that in the recent 4 months of this year, there were already 120 new tyre brands in Malaysia. “These new brands are mainly from China and Thailand. Tyre brands from Asean are acceptable in Malaysia. We would never win in a price war. The only way that we are able to differentiate from them is to increase our brand image and help the consumers make the best tyre choice in meeting their driving habits, requirements and needs. We always recommend that they buy tyres from reputable manufacturers. SRI is Japan’s number 2 tyre manufacturer and ranks 5th in the world.”
Besides that, Ushida said SRI and Stamford Tyres had invested a lot on promoting Falken’s brand image. “Our young and energetic image is supported by quality and good performance products with reasonable pricing to ensure that we are being recognised for that. For instance, tyre tests carried out by independent and professional German magazines such as Auto Bild, Autozeitung and ACE Lenkrad led to good reviews on our new Japan-made FK510.”
Help Small Dealers Increase Sales
Stamford Tyres was established in the 30s and grew to become a global tyre distributor. Its relationship with SRI started in the 70s with the Ohtsu Tire & Rubber Co, Ltd, which has been under SRI’s ownership since 1980.
“We have a very strong relationship with Stamford Tyres. The company has been very aggressive and contributed to the growth of the Falken brand in the Asia Pacific, India and South Africa,” said Ushida.
With the debut of the FK510 that earned many good reviews in Europe and Malaysia, Cham believed that the company could double the number of tyres sold compared to its predecessor FK453.
“To further grow the Falken brand, our strategy is to cover more of our small dealers and help them elevate their sales to become a medium size dealer. Of course, this would have to do with the new product being launched, competitive programmes and elevating the brand image further through alliance with global brands such as the Liverpool Football Club. Furthermore, we have to position Falken as one of the middle brands that provide good performance and value for the money, and continue to move forward to increase market share despite the growing challenges,” he surmised.