Explaining TMD Friction’s Brand Strategy

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Source: TMD Friction recently posted the following question-and-answer interview with two of its executives explaining the company’s global brand strategy, including the addition of the Bendix brand to the portfolio.

LEVERKUSEN, Germany — TMD Friction extends its brand portfolio with the premium brand Bendix. Textar, Mintex, Don, Nisshinbo and Cobreq are leading brake friction brands in their respective segments and the regions in which they are used.

This makes TMD Friction a true brake-friction specialist with the broadest brand portfolio in this particular product area and thus one of the largest car park coverages in Europe. The background for this multi-brand strategy and the new addition to the portfolio is revealed in an interview by Clément de Valon (CdV), Executive Vice President Independent Aftermarket at TMD Friction, and Sören Kristensen (SK), Vice President Global Marketing & Communication at TMD Friction.

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TMD Friction Continues to Expand its Offerings

Clément de Valon, TMD Friction offers its products under different brand names. What is the background?

CdV: It is our stated goal to serve all the drivers in the world better and to offer them the right spare part – no matter where in the world they live, which car they own and what their budget constraints are. It is therefore our task to develop a strategy on how we can meet all these very different requirements and serve everyone with the right product. So, we create brands that are specifically tailored to certain regions, vehicle segments and price classes. It is important for me to emphasize that quality and safety are our top priorities in every price segment.

Sören Kristensen, market segment coverage is therefore the big keyword behind your “Brand Strategy 2025”. What challenges do you see coming up in the next few years?

SK: Car drivers around the world have different requirements, based on factors like local legislation, infrastructure, vehicle preferences and even climate. While in North America, for example, the focus is on reducing brake dust, South America is a much more price-sensitive market. In Europe, on the other hand, most emphasis is placed on performance, and in Asia it is quite mixed: in some countries price has priority, in others it is comfort. In Europe we already have the largest vehicle segment coverage of all brake pad suppliers; in other regions we are still working on it. But it is not only the regional differences that are increasing, the effects of the Corona pandemic worldwide will also play an immense role.

What specific consequences do you expect?

CdV: The Corona crisis will further fuel the already ongoing consolidation of distribution in the European aftermarket. We must continue to be flexible in the future and constantly adapt to this change. But people’s new lifestyles, now often described as the “new normal”, will also have a direct impact on our business. How many kilometers will be travelled on average each year in the future if perhaps many more people work from home, fly less for their holidays and fundamentally change their mobility behavior? Will this have a measurable impact on our brake pad replacement rates? We can’t say all that with certainty today. So, it remains exciting.

SK: In any case, the Corona crisis has shown us one thing: continuous product availability is the most important criterion for workshops. Of course, quality and price are also important, but how does a very good, affordable spare part help if it is not available? We can even draw a positive conclusion after the first year of crisis: Our key to success was that we were able to deliver all the time. We always had our finger on the pulse and were able to anticipate any problems in our supply chain very quickly. In contrast to many competitors, we have consciously expanded capacities and did not cut them – exactly the right decision, both for our employees and for the success of our company. Our customers very much recognize these efforts: In March, we received the TEMOT award in the category “Best Supplier 2020 – Commercial Vehicles”. We are grateful for this and it also makes us proud.

What effect does vehicle electrification have on your strategy?

CdV: The alternative drivetrain technologies will not change our strategy, as our approach is linked to performance in the market and providing the best, well-engineered solution to the specific vehicle. Our engineering team are working closely with the vehicle manufacturers to develop friction solutions for the vehicles that are currently in development. The brake systems will evolve further as electrification and other technologies become more mature. As the driver brakes much less actively due to the strong self-braking effect of the electric motor, and the brake pads are therefore less stressed, the specifications are certainly changing in terms of weight, resistance to climate effects, etc. But our strategy remains the same: providing the best solutions to stop vehicles effectively.

We already know that the increasing penetration of electric cars in the global fleet will mean that brake pads will need to be replaced less frequently. We have had the topic of e-mobility on our agenda for a long time and regularly carry out elaborate research and testing procedures to constantly optimize our friction products for use in electric or hybrid vehicles.

With Bendix, you will be adding another brand for the EMEA region to your portfolio in 2021. Why another new addition?

CdV: Bendix is a brand with a long tradition in the European aftermarket and we are proud to have been given the opportunity to develop Bendix further. We have put a lot of TMD Friction’s engineering and manufacturing know-how into Bendix to make it a true premium brand offering for our customers.

SK: Bendix is a good addition to our brand portfolio because it opens new doors and opportunities for us in some regions and also distribution channels where, due to the respective market conditions, we have to offer alternatives to the brands we already have. As a premium brand for passenger car brake components, Bendix is located directly below our Textar portfolio. Therefore, Bendix is particularly interesting for high quality focused workshops who offer high standards

How have you developed Bendix further?

SK: We have incorporated all our development know-how and our OE expertise into the products, thus giving the brand a real makeover. It is at the cutting edge of technology and matches our high specifications for premium brake pads. That’s why we also use the slogan “Bendix just got better” to make garages aware that we have really changed something and are not simply offering the same product under a different brand.

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CdV: We want to raise awareness among the distributors and workshops in this respect and have, like for Textar, set up a high-quality marketing and service program around the brand. Of course, it will also include Brakebook, our online catalogue and access to TMD Friction’s technical support and trainings. The TMD Friction team feels a great passion for the brand, and we believe it complements our brand portfolio perfectly.

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