Stamford Tyres (M) Sdn Bhd, the sole distributor of Falken tyres in Malaysia have, for a long time invested in social media as part of their global image, with the Falken Malaysia’s official Facebook page created in 16th April, 2013. This Facebook page has proven a helpful tool in the Covid-19 pandemic, especially during the implementation of Malaysian government’s movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19.
According to Statista, the most popular social media platforms among users in Malaysia in 2020 were Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and Linkedln. Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has become the most widely used social media platform among social media users in Malaysia. Base on Statcounter, Facebook remains the top site, with 84.32 per cent of market shares, followed by Pinterest (6.28 per cent), Twitter (3.31 per cent), Youtube (3 per cent) and Instagram (2.29 per cent) between July 2019 to July 2020. This showed that Stamford Tyres Malaysia made the right choice to put the most leverage on its Falken Facebook business page to help expand their presence and reach in the market.
“During MCO, especially from April to May, people were spending more time online with their devices. The closure of non-essential businesses and services meant that most people needed to stay and work from home, there has been a rapid escalation in online shopping, video conference, online marketing, e-learning, as schools and tuition centre moved their lessons on-line, home-based entertainment as well as online communication,” said Frankie Kong, Head of Sales for SUV & 4X4, Stamford Tyres Malaysia.
Falken Facebook Page followers increased 50 per cent during MCO
Falken Facebook page, he pointed out, has always been a great marketing tool for the company. “It enhanced Falken’s brand identity and raised its brand awareness. In fact, our Falken Facebook has been enjoying good engagement and traffic before the lockdown. But, it was during MCO that we really saw and experienced its power and potency, especially in overcoming geographical limitations, boasting market presence, as well as allowing direct interaction with our dealers and customers. It helps us to stay connected and relevant with them. Our Falken Facebook page’s followers have increased about 50 per cent as compared to before MCO”
Head of High-Performance Tyre Ku Seng Yeow added that the expansion of Falken’s digital footprint has helped them to reach and tap into new markets. “We received enquiries from rural areas on the east coast and East Malaysia regarding certain Falken patterns. The move to extend the free 1GB internet data offer, except social media and video streaming until 31st December, as part of the government’s short-term Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) also encouraged digitalisation to a certain extent.”
Dealers benefit from Falken Academy Training
To assist and support their dealers that are operating in a marketplace with increasing disruption and uncertainty, Kong said, it is important to equip them with product knowledge, applications, as well as marketing techniques.
“Many dealers do not have proper training. The tyre industry tends to focus more on product knowledge, but our Falken Academy Training emphasises both product knowledge and applications. This helps our dealers to sell the right tyres to customers based on types of vehicle, usage, driving behaviour and requirements. Our aim is to train all our dealers and the original plan is to conduct monthly training on a big scale at the newly set up training centre at our premises. We cannot proceed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and have to conduct our training in smaller group at individual tyre service centre.”
Apart from that, Ku said, they also encouraged and helped dealers create their own Facebook page. “There are several challenges to the traditional tyre retail model, and we help our dealers to discover new ways to operate, for instance leveraging on a digital and omni-channel basis. Then, we would tag our dealers’ Facebook page or share their videos and activities on the Falken official Facebook page. Coupled with the dealership listings on Falken Facebook Page, this would boost our dealers’ online visibility and drive traffic to their business.”
Previously, he continued, dealers would keep stock. But now, they are more cautious, and prefer to make more orders with smaller quantities. “We are very flexible and willing to support them in tough times. For small quantity urgent deliveries, our dealers would use Lalamove Malaysia, the on-demand and same- day delivery service provider.”
Kong added that Stamford Tyres Malaysia also shorten their supply chain by dealing directly with the dealers. “Going direct to dealers enable us to have a better control of our brand and pricing, it also benefits dealers as they are able to price their products more competitively. As for the end-user, there is less markup in retail price.”
He sees a pick-up in market demand. The company’s sales has increased about 30 to 40 per cent with more relaxed conditions of the recovery movement control (RMCO) that have been in place since 10th June. The major growth segment, he pointed out is from Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV), from the previous 10 per cent increase to a threefold 30 per cent.
“There is a short supply due to the local tyre manufacture owing to labour issues, and the majority of the Chinese tyre importers do not have inventory holding power. They were tight in available cash during the lockdown with the considerably high warehouse cost. We have not encountered any supply shortage, as Falken’s factory in Thailand and Indonesia are less affected by Covid-19, and both have higher levels of automation. Thus, our overall supply is quite consistent, with a little delay for certain patterns due to unexpected demand. Both Falken Azenis FK510 and ZE914 EcoRun are well received in the market.”
Currently, Ku added, the market situation is better than expected. However, with the moratorium ending on 30th September 2020, all loan and financing repayment schemes will resume in October 2020, causing a decline in buying power.
Advanced 4D Nano Design to accelerate new tyre materials’ development
Despite challenges and uncertainties in the market, Stamford Malaysia will continue to bring in new Falken products.
“We are planning to launch two new tyres, one for passenger cars and another for SUV/CUV segments at either the end of this year or early next year. These tyres are the result of our cutting-edge proprietary simulation technology — Advanced 4D Nano Design. This technology will utilise the K supercomputer and other equipment to perform the world’s most advanced material simulation and analysis, which allows Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) – the manufacturer of Falken tyres – to achieve significant improvements on the tyre’s wet grip performance, fuel efficiency and wear performance,” revealed Kong.
Kong said these two new tyres have received very good reviews in Europe and USA since their launch. “We should continue to improve and expand our product offerings as well as sizes at affordable prices to cater for the needs of motorists during these tough times.” Stamford Tyres (M) Sdn Bhd, the sole distributor of Falken tyres in Malaysia have, for a long time invested in social media as part of their global image, with the Falken Malaysia’s official Facebook page created in 16th April, 2013. This Facebook page has proven a helpful tool in the Covid-19 pandemic, especially during the implementation of Malaysian government’s movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“行管令期间，特别是从4月到5月，人们将更多的时间花在电子装置上。关闭非必要业务和服务，意味着大部分的人必须留在家里和居家办公。网购、视频会议、线上行 销、电子学习，学校和补习班也纷 纷将课程移到线上，家庭娱乐及线 上沟通。”马来西亚添福胶胎休旅 车、四驱车销售主管江泽纬表示。
“本地轮胎制造商因员工问题而造成短期供应短缺，大部分的中国轮胎进口商则没有库存持有力。封锁期间，他们可动用的现金紧张，仓储成本又相对的高。我们没有面对供应短缺的问题，因为飞劲的泰国和印尼工厂受新冠肺炎影响不大，更何况这两家工厂的自动化水平较高。因此，我们的总体供应相当平稳，只有一些款型因预期之外的需求而延迟交货。飞劲Azenis FK510和ZE914 EcoRun相当受欢迎。”
“我们计划在今年底或明年年初发表两款新轮胎，一 款轿车胎和另一款休旅车/跨界车轮胎。这两款轮胎采用我们的尖端专利模拟技术—先进4D纳米设计而成。该技术将通过K级超级计算机和其他设备，进行世界最先进的原材料模拟和分析，让飞劲制造商住友橡胶工业株式会社（SRI）大大提升轮胎湿地抓地力、节油及磨耗表现。” 江泽纬透露