Why you should promote your winter tires now
It’s no secret that winter tires are the safest option when it comes to driving in snow and extreme wintery conditions; however, a new Michelin survey has found that more than one in three Canadian drivers still do not own a set of winter tires. It’s not hard to imagine a similar situation in snow-prone areas of the United States, too.
This is despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of people believe that safety outweighs cost when it comes to buying winter tires and that in Quebec winter tires are required by law from December 15 to March 15. So why are they not buying winter tires and what should tire dealers be doing?
Why are drivers in snow-prone areas not buying winter tires?
Among the people surveyed by Michelin, 43 percent believed that all-season tires were sufficient for winter driving. In the majority of provinces, the most popular reason for not owning winter tires was because drivers believed their vehicles would be fine at handling winter conditions. The main reason respondents (52 percent) gave in Quebec for not owning winter tires, at the time of the survey, was that they had purchased a new vehicle in the spring or summer and the vehicle did not come with winter tires.
Informing your customers about all-season versus winter tires
There is a great deal of evidence, not only about the superior performance of winter tires in challenging cold-weather climates, but about how they improve safety. Extensive research in Canada and by Consumer Reports showed winter tires easily command a “20-percent benefit in snow and ice traction over all-season tires,” and that some of the best winter tires have nearly twice the grip as some all-season models. Meanwhile the Quebec Government found a five percent drop in winter driving injuries after the government made winter tires mandatory.
What your customers might not know is that winter tires are made from a compound that stays flexible as it gets colder. This means they grip the road better when the temperature dips below 50F. They also have a different tread pattern of wider grooves and narrow slits at the edges of the tread area, which combine to give better grip on snow and ice.
“While all-season tires are meant to keep you safe in occasional, transitional weather conditions, you need winter tires to safely ride through our Canadian winters,” Michelin driving expert Carl Nadeau said. “The unique tread compounds of winter tires allow them to remain more flexible in colder temperatures, providing better traction than all-season tires. All-season tires are less flexible and less effective when the temperature drops consistently below freezing, and especially when precipitation is added to the mix.”
Tires are the only part of the vehicle that actually touches the road, so making sure a vehicle is equipped with the right set of winter tires is integral to road safety. If you are a tire dealer in an area prone to snow or extreme wintry conditions, you can help your customers understand how to prepare their vehicle so it will handle snow, ice, slush and the cold.
Marketing winter tires to your customers
Although 77 percent of the drivers surveyed said that cost weighed on their decisions to buy winter tires, 88 percent said safety was an important factor. Sixty-one percent agreed there was no ceiling price on tires when it comes to winter road safety for themselves and others.
The message about safety is a powerful one and sometimes people just need either a prompt or to be in possession of all the facts (such as the difference between all-season and winter tires) to go out and make the purchase. If you haven’t prepared your winter tire marketing messages yet, you still have time and there are plenty of efficient and effective ways to get them out there.
Linking to weather reports is a good way to remind unprepared people to think about getting their winter tires fitted, as is holding free winter car safety workshops for customers. You need to give them as much information as possible so it’s good to talk to them about exactly how and why winter tires work and address issues such as the need to install four winter tires to maintain the stability of their vehicle and performance on the road.