Tread on This: A Look at Tire Shoppers

Tires

Image from: Tires / Shutterstock

With the SEMA show right around the corner, and winter fast approaching, Compete felt compelled to investigate tires.

There are two big segments in what we’ll call the ‘tire-only’ market (i.e., excluding eBay Motors, Advanced Auto Parts, and other websites that don’t primarily focus on tires).  There are sites for tire OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), which direct consumers to their local stores, and there are Third Party, all-online tire shopping sites, which compare OEM tires, and ship tires to directly to the consumer.

In this analysis, Compete leveraged its site analytics and patented ability to track, normalize, and count unique visitors (UVs), which avoids double-counting consumers who perform the same activity more than once in a period).

Demand

First, Compete compared OEM average site volume to Third Party site volume to asses where the bulk of the market lies.  The OEM sites included were Goodyear.com, Michelinman.com, BFGoodrich.com, Bridgestonetire.com, Firestone.com, and dunloptires.com. The Third Party sites used were Discounttire.com, Tirerack.com, Discounttiredirect.com, Tirebuyer.com and Discounttires.com.

Average Unique Visitors to OEM and Third Party Sites

Findings

  • Most of the traffic is to Third Party sites, where users can not only compare different OEMs, but also browse wheels and other parts
  • There exists some seasonality within both tire segments, peaking in fall, where visitors are most likely shopping winter tires
  • Third Party site volume had another peak in spring, where visitors may be browsing wheels, and other tire-related products

 
Conversion

Third Party sites garner more attention than OEM sites, but most sites don’t intend for consumers to merely visit the site, they need to convert site visitors into site engagers.  Compete assessed the share of visitors the OEM sites engaged with locating a dealer, and on the Third Party sites, the share of visitors engaged with the vehicle input tool. To make things interesting, Compete measured most-improved sites against site averages.

Most Improved OEM Conversion: Dunloptires.com

Over the past 13 months, the OEM sites’ share of visitors locating a dealer has been volatile, with a few sites vastly improving year over year, seen in the aggregated average.  The average locate a dealer engagement improved from 14% in September 2011 to 32% in September 2012.  Dunloptires.com improved 22 percentage points from .06% in September 2011 to 22.7% in September 2012, the most growth recognized by any site measured.

Share of Unique OEM Site Visitors to Site Who Locate a Dealer

Most Improved Third Party Conversion: Tirebuyer.com

The Third Party sites measured all had between 19% and 35% of their visitors using the input vehicle tool, which helps consumers determine which tires are the best fit for their vehicle.  The input a vehicle average among sites measured trended lower year over year from 32% in September 2011 to 28% in September 2012, which makes Tirebuyer.com activity against the grain. Tirebuyer.com engagement improved 11.5 percentage points in September 2011 to 30.4% in September 2012.

Share of Unique Visitors to Third Party Site who Input VehicleLooking Ahead:

Both OEM and Third Party sites should drill down further to analyze how they stack up amongst the competition, and analyze potential site/user experience improvements:

 

  • Investigate demand on a site level to see where users are shopping, as well as how they are arriving at the site
  • Consider focusing on tire-only behavior on Third Party sites
  • Determine whether the change in DunlopTires.com locate a dealer engagement was due to a site redesign, causing the current urls to not be indicative of last year’s activity, or if another factor is causing it
  • Measure how effectively tirebuyer.com is in turning engaged visitors into buyers
  • Compare relative success of engaged visitors to purchases on the Third Party sites

 

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About Leslie Griffin:
Leslie Griffin is a Client Services Associate in Compete's Automotive department, analyzing Compete data to provide marketing insights to the auto industry. Before Leslie joined Compete in 2012, she was in the digital ad sales department in the Motor Trend Automotive Group. Connect with Leslie on LinkedIn.