London — Michelin has earned the distinction of being the world's most valuable tire brand for a third straight year, according to the latest rating by Brand Finance Group, although the gap to No. 2 Bridgestone narrowed considerably,
Michelin retained its No. 1 rating despite a 1% drop in brand value, to $7.16 billion from $7.23 billion, the London-based business valuation and strategy consultancy said. The value of the Bridgestone brand — which was No. 1 as recently as 2017 — rose 1% over 2019 to $7.02 billion.
Farther down the list, China's Linglong brand cracked the top 10, according to Brand Finance, based in large part on the ability of the brand's maker, Linglong Tire Group, to boost overseas sales to over 25% of global revenues as well as its sponsorship deals with European soccer clubs Juventus F.C. and Vfl Wolfsburg.
Brand Finance noted that sponsorship strategies are not new to tire brands, but that tying a brand to sports teams outside of motorsports is relatively new. Besides Linglong, Pirelli Tyre, Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. and Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. have been building their awareness and familiarity with the public this way.
In its Automotive Industry 2020 report, Brand Finance called Michelin the tire industry's "thought leader," pointing out that the French tire maker's research into non-pneumatic "punctureless" tires and association with premium events helped the brand maintain its strength and status.
"Tire makers are on the hook to deliver something more than durability, reliability and high performance," Brand Finance said in its study. "They need to embark on the 'connectivity' journey.
"A big question now is: 'To what extent can the tire manufacturers leverage the 5G technology to create connected tires?'"
The firm said analysts expect the connected tire market to grow by up to 75% by 2030 with autonomous driving and car-sharing contributing highly to demand for connected tires. Growth in the more traditional tire industry, by contrast, is predicted to be in the 5% range by 2027.
Continental AG retains the No. 3 ranking despite a slight slip in value, down 2.6% to $3.32 billion, ahead of Dunlop and Goodyear at fourth and fifth.
The Dunlop brand — which is shared by Goodyear and Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. and used by them exclusively in agreed-upon geographic regions — was valued at $2.13 billion, up 5.7% over 2019, whereas the Goodyear brand was valued at $2.08 billion, up 6.9% over 2019.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. (SRI) was listed as No. 10, with a value of $756 million, although SRI uses the Sumitomo brand on a limited basis, preferring to use Falken in areas where Goodyear has the rights to the Dunlop brand and Dunlop elsewhere.
Spokesmen from Brand Finance acknowledged that listing Sumitomo Rubber is a bit misleading, owing to the Falken/Dunlop/Sumitomo branding issues, and vowed to take SRI's split branding situation into consideration in future rankings.
Other brands to make the company's top 10 are:
• Pirelli, No. 6, valued at $1.48 billion, down 8.7% from 2019;
• Hankook, No. 7 valued at $1.32 billion, down 9.8%; and
• Yokohama, No. 8, valued at $873 million, up 6%.