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Magazine Test, A stage to evaluate a brand’s technology

Hankook Tire, selected by a global top-tier automobile magazine as “The Tire Manufacturer of the Year”

Although the word "fashion" is often associated with glamorous and trendy fashion magazines, such magazines are an excellent medium for effectively telling a story in a condensed manner for a specific industry segment. For consumers, magazines provide an effective way to understand the latest market trends and information. At the same time, companies have a tremendous opportunity to feature their brands to highlight differentiation and influence the customers. The same can be said about the automotive industry. In the automotive market especially, dedicated automobile magazines have become an arena where many brands fight to showcase their technology.

What is the “Magazine Test?”

Hankook Tire & Technology-Technology in Motion-Magazine Test, A stage to evaluate a brand's technology-1

The German automotive market is one of the biggest globally and home to many of the premium car manufacturers, such as Mercedes Benz and BMW. Therefore, German people have higher expectations for vehicles, and their pride in leading the automotive industry is significant. There are also many automobile magazines instilled with heritage. The segmentation of automotive magazines is diverse, and there are a vast number of magazines, including magazines that focus on classic cars, sports cars, and even comparison tests.

One noteworthy activity that each automobile magazine conducts is the so-called "magazine test," in which vehicles and tires are periodically compared and ranked. In this magazine test, companies with the best technology actively compete and are ranked. Placing first in one of these tests is another way to prove the brand's technological prowess in the global automobile market. Hankook Tire won a total of 11 magazine tests in 2021 alone. We met with a Hankook Tire team member who is part of the Magazine Test Response Team, which manages their relationship with magazines, and listened to detailed stories about Hankook Tire's results in the global magazine test.

Interview

“We were awarded from 11 magazine tests in 2021, one of which was the best manufacturer for its all-season line of tires by Auto Bild, the most prestigious and popular automobile magazine. It is even more meaningful as the award is a recognition of our efforts to technological development, we have made to improve the tires’ winter performance.”

Sungjin Kim (Marketer, Product Strategy Team)
Byung-gi Park (Leader, RE Performance Development Project Team)

  • Hankook Tire & Technology-Technology in Motion-Magazine Test, A stage to evaluate a brand's technology-2
  • ‘Winter i*cept evo 3’, a product that obtained the highest grade of ‘very recommendable’ for two consecutive years in the winter tire performance test conducted by ‘Auto Bild sportscar’

Q. How influential is the magazine test in the global automobile market?

Let's first talk about what a magazine test is. The publishers of these magazines purchase popular tires brands in each segment; evaluate the performance of the tires under various conditions (such as handling, braking, noise, and rolling resistance on dry, wet, and snowy pavement conditions); and publish the rankings on their websites and in their magazines for the consumers' benefit.

The magazine test is generally considered to be a material that objectively proves product performance in the RE* market. The recognition of competence in the test by a reputable magazine positively affects tire sales. It allows OE* makers (automakers) to become OE tire suppliers by providing objective information about the tires' performance level.

*RE: A shorthand for Replacement Equipment. These RE tires are developed for the aftermarket segment as replacements.

*OE: A shorthand for Original Equipment. These OE tires are developed with the required specifications of an automobile manufacturer and are installed on new vehicles.

Q. Can you name some of the magazine tests that you are particularly paying attention to at Hankook Tire?

We pay close attention to two European magazines tests, Auto Bild and ADAC MotorWelt, and the Consumer Report from the U.S., as they are the most respected magazines with the highest number of subscribers. Auto Bild, especially, published its first magazine in 1986 and has since then expanded to 36 countries with monthly sales of over seven million copies sold. (There are sister magazines, Auto Bild Sportscar (specializes in sports cars and tuning), Auto Bild Allarad (specializes in SUVs), Auto Bild Classic (specializes in classic cars), and Auto Express (published only in the UK)).

While many consumers in the digital age consider a magazine's objectivity over the number of copies it sells, Auto Bild is still celebrated for both its credibility and its influence as an automobile magazine.

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Q. There must be a way to verify the products of many brands in a magazine test. By what criteria do they evaluate and rank?

To maintain the objectivity, the magazine publishers are to purchase the tires from the retail stores. The purchased tires are then installed onto the reference cars. The evaluation categories and scoring may vary, but the publishers test the product in various ways to provide comprehensive and fair evaluation and rankings

For instance, the tire evaluation items from Auto Bild are as follows.

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*Hydroplaning: The condition in which a vehicle loses traction with the road due to a thin film of water between the tires and the road while driving at high speeds. This happens when tires cannot discharge the water properly from the tire.

*Rolling Resistance: The rolling resistance, RR, is a loss of energy as heat from deformation and the slippage of the tires caused by an uneven road surface while the vehicle is traveling. As RR directly impacts the fuel efficiencies of vehicles, it is one of the key functionalities that are critical in the pursuit of eco-friendliness.

Hankook Tire & Technology-Technology in Motion-Magazine Test, A stage to evaluate a brand's technology-5

Hankook Tire in Auto Build. Evaluation items, points, and awards are detailed.

Q. Hankook Tire won 11 magazine tests in 2021 alone. What are some of the particularly remarkable achievements that you want to highlight?

In addition to winning awards in 11 magazine tests in 2021, every year we are achieving excellent results in a wide range of magazine tests. In particular, the most notable achievement is being the Manufacturer of the Year award in Auto Bild's all-weather tire category. It is meaningful that our products' performance has been recognized not only in the summer category, where its excellence has been consistently recognized for such a long time, but also in the winter or all-weather category.

Q. So, which products are attributed to the excellent performance in the magazine test?

Kinergy 4S2 X was solely designated at an Outstanding level amongst all of the All-Weather (EU All-Season) tires for SUVs, by the Auto Bild’s SUV-dedicated magazine. Achieving the top spot for two consecutive years, especially in the European market, provided us with positive outcomes, including a sales boost.

“The one tire that keeps you safe in all weather conditions.”

“Excellent performance on snowy and wet roads, a good margin of safety when aquaplaning,
sound performance at a fair price”

Auto Bild Allrad

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  • Winning an award in the magazine tests grant the brand the opportunity to place logos with award details, a feat to prove the products’ technical achievements.

Additionally, Winter i*cept evo 3, our winter tire, has won first place in the winter-tire performance test conducted by Auto Bild Sportscar and received a "Very Recommended" level, the highest level available, for two consecutive years.

The deciding factor in winning this award, we believe, was addressing tread hardening in cold temperatures by developing the optimal compound for winter weather using the tire material research that improved the grip and braking performances during wintry road conditions.

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Winter I*cept evo 3

Q. Wouldn’t these results impact the brand operation and product development in positive ways?

We are gathering market insights, including global consumer needs and trends, by noting the winners of these magazine tests globally. Per the market insights gathered, we adjust our products' performances and utilize our products' feedback to shape a new product roadmap for each market and segment.

At the same time, we conduct the benchmarking of the competitors' products to improve our current products and develop new products. For instance, we added the sipe* to Kinergy 4S2 to optimize the pattern rigidity and enhance wear resistance. The application of the new compound increased the tire grip, leading to improved wet and snowy performances.

*Sipe: Numerous horizontal grooves carved on the tread to improve the driving, braking, and drainage performances. Provides a safe driving experience without slipping on snowy or rainy roads.

We quantify and analyze the characteristics of the tires and vehicles evaluated by the automotive magazines to discover the optimal technology to understand the optimal performance characteristics of our tires to respond to the magazine tests appropriately. This research and development process contributes significantly to improving the performance of the new products.

Q. What are your goals for the magazine test going forward?

There are a lot of magazine tests for tires around the world. With digitalization, evaluation media is also diversifying. The number of social influencers comparing and analyzing the various brands' products and posting them on their YouTube channels has increased. It is realistically impossible to receive excellent reviews across all media, including magazines. Therefore, the goal is to obtain the best ratings in major magazine tests from selected target magazines and focus on their tests. Furthermore, we will expand our coverage over the online media evaluations to publicize the superb performances of Hankook Tire even more broadly.

We are working hard to improve performance. More specifically, in the short term, the goal is to acquire a VR (Very Recommendable) rating, which is the highest level given by AutoBild, the strategic target magazine publisher, with Summer Ventus Prime4 (K135), and to obtain "excellent performance" from AutoBild or ADAC MotorWelt with the flagship product 'Ventus evo3'.