NSK is developing its business in the independent automotive aftermarket, leveraging its status as a long-established company serving OE car manufacturers to overcome the challenges of a highly competitive arena. Able to offer a number of key differentiators, such as an extensive manufacturing footprint, a proven track record in value-added solutions and a trusted network of distribution partners, NSK is looking to win market share and drive business growth.
"We see an opportunity to make gains in the independent automotive aftermarket, where we strongly believe that NSK will add value," states Paul Cranston, Automotive Aftermarket Director. "Our aim is to support our partners in the parts distribution and garage business to become more profitable, effective and efficient. Looking at our comprehensive product range, we have a lot to offer our customers in terms of future benefits."
Among the new products being introduced in support of NSK's ambitions is ProKIT, which includes only 100% genuine products as specified and used by OE car manufacturers. The first ProKIT range introduced focusses on wheel HUB bearings, a product purposely selected to demonstrate the company's proven capabilities.
"NSK is the global leader supplying third generation HUB bearings," says Mr Cranston. "Worldwide, nearly all OE car manufacturers demand NSK products, and offering these bearings in the independent automotive
aftermarket is the logical next step. The launch of ProKIT goes hand in hand with our highest aims for quality and a promise to add value for customers."
Backed by a century of trading – NSK celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016 – the company has comprehensive automotive sector knowledge, fully understanding both its width (number of NSK products in cars) and depth (number of cars featuring NSK products). Of course, every country is different with regard to its automotive aftermarket and, as a result, requires a targeted market approach. However, based on market dynamics, NSK will initially launch Prokit in Western Europe and Russia, as the established markets for kits.
In Western Europe, the company will focus on the leading markets, even though they are highly saturated, with a high level of competition and a number of strong mergers and acquisitions. In contrast, Russia offers a very different dynamic as an emerging market showing rapid development. The demands and the way of doing business are very different in Russia, giving opportunities for quicker growth. In all countries, however, NSK will arrive as a new market entrant looking to take share from established competitors. So, how does it intend to succeed?
"People only pay for things they value," says Mr Cranston. "We took our time to understand what aftermarket customers really need. In addition, we spent time developing the right added value proposals and bundling them to the right offer by choosing the right product quality, at the right cost. Now, we have successfully started to convince the various country markets of this offer."
With respect to the French automotive aftermarket, NSK is looking to establish a number of strategies to ensure successful penetration. For instance, it is vital for distributors to hold stock, build good relationships with garages and offer a local service. NSK says that each distributor is only selected are careful consideration, and the company pledges to support its partners as much as possible, particularly through offering access to its extensive knowledge and expertise.
"NSK values diversity, and almost our entire automotive aftermarket team has been recruited based on their previous experience and market knowledge," explains Mr Cranston. "We are also planning to invest further in these resources in order to be close to our customers."
In the short-to-medium term, the company's objective is to achieve recognition of the NSK brand and its offer across the independent automotive aftermarket in Europe. The vehicle to make this happen is the new Prokit. Furthermore, over the next three to five years, the company wants to make a step change in the root to market and establish long term partners in all countries for which NSK Europe has responsibility, from Vladivostok in the far east of Russia, to Reykjavik in Iceland.
"It is important for NSK to be present in all markets," concludes Mr Cranston. "Our position in the OE business is a prerequisite and provides us with the necessary product range that will help our approach to the aftermarket. However, OE car manufacturers and the aftermarket are very different, which means we need to be very focused on the specific requirements of customers in the independent automotive aftermarket.”