Bridgestone, the world second largest tire manufacturing company in the world is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. It owns 20% of worldwide market share. It is engaged in the production of other rubber products which include tubes for various machinery and contruction equipment. The company is operating at a global scale and competes with the worlds largest tire manufacturers, the likes of Michelin, Continental and Goodyear. Although it does own 20% of worldwide market share in the tire industry, it owns a lower market share of 10% in Europe due to the strong presence of Michelin and Continental.
Bridgestone is the leading supplier to the F1 grand prix which reflects their trust in the quality of their product. In 1988 Bridgestone acquired Firestone, which was targeted to the mid range segment Bridgestone continues to internationalize and develop ways to tackle the European market. Michelin owns 32% of the European market share for tires. It however plans to improve its productivity in Europe by 20% in the next 3 years. It is therefore expecting to accomplish this by developing its products, service and multibrand policy.
Also by, restructuring all its European activities. (Hollensen, 2011) In hopes to promote growth and strengrthen its marketing strategies, Michelin may emphasize on the differentiation on its products and services in the European market, in order to serve to local demand of tires, and therefore increase European market share. An example of such would be Michelin dealing with environmental concerns further, and therefore promoting environmentally friendly tires, or “green” tires.
Among the strengths of Michelin include its globally renowned R&D centers that are known for their quality in research in innovative products and are known to be amongst the top in the world, and are therefore largely financially supported. (Michelin, 2010) Michelins strength of brand and their “Michelan man” logo is a worldwide symbol for quality of product and service. Michelin manufactures aircraft tires and that in itself is considered a competitive advantage over its competitors Goodyear and Continental.
For its involvement in the aircraft industry, this guarantees the durability and quality of its tires, and enables its market share to increase because they trust the product and services of the company. Looking at the European market as a whole however, Michelin could attempt to increase its market share in the UK and Germany, where although it still holds largest market share, it still has strong competitors such as Dunlop (Goodyear) and Continental respectively.
Germany’s largest tire manufacturer for commercial tires, but is known to manufacturer power transmission systems, engine and suspension mounts, vehicle interiors and electronic brake and traction control systems. Continental is the fourth largest tire manufacturer in the world following Michelin, Bridgestone, and Goodyear respectively. It pursues a multibrand strategy, especially in the European regions, due the lack of strength of its key brand. The potential to therefore increase its market share in the European region is available.
Being established as a German brand, Continental has therefore taken over the market share in Germany, but is unable to penetrate the markets in other european countries, and is under respresented in the UK, Spain, Italy, and France. It aims to do so by using its competitive advantage in developing a position as a complete systems supplier to the automotive industry. In 1995, Continental’s research and development team sought to achieve higher market share in the automotive industry and invested in the research and technology in automotive electronics, which promised much higher profits than tires.
The objective was to gain a strong competitive position in the fast-growing market for electronic stability programs (ESPs). It wasn’t long until Continental became the world leader in the braking segment in the automotive industry. (Universe, 2004) The USA based company Goodyear, owns 17% of the worlds market share in tires. It operates solely in the rubber business where it develops, manufactures, distributes and sells rubber products. (Hollensen, 2011)
Currently it follows a strategy in which it aims to remain the lowest cost producer of tires in the world, and continues acquiring profitable brand names, which include Dunlop. Although continental as a key brand, has a lack of exposure in the European region, Dunlop has a higher market share in more regions, those such as the UK and Germany. (Hollensen, 2011) Goodyear’s partnership with RMT robotics gives them a competitive edge over their rivals. Reducing their labor costs and keeping inventory levels low and customer responses high.
This allows precise and faster production processes. “We will remain a customer-centric company. We will strive to earn our customers’ business every day with the industry’s best products packed with innovation. ” (Kramer, 2010) Being a customer-centric company, allows them to satisfy their customers needs and cater to their demands faster, thus gaining a large consumer base. With drag racing and drifting surfacing as a popular sport, Goodyear has worked to ensure the safety of the racers by offering semi-slick and fully slick tires specially created for such purposes.
Manufacturing companies today are always looking for a cutthroat advantage that would put them ahead of their rivals in an industry. Lean manufacturing could be the best solution. “Lean manufacturing is thought of to be the consideration of the total cost of resources to achieve a specific objective and to eliminate waste” (MXI, 2010) It is an operational strategy in which all elements that do not create value to the company are eliminated in the supply chain, and this results in the decreasing of costs and a more efficient supply chain.
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