Executive Interview: Michael Proud, Director of Marketing, North America, Federal-Mogul Corporation -
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Executive Interview: Michael Proud, Director of Marketing, North America, Federal-Mogul Corporation

Federal-Mogul is a premier global OE and aftermarket manufacturer with such leading brands as ANCO wipers, Champion spark plugs and performance additives, Carter fuel delivery products, Fel-Pro gaskets, MOOG steering and suspension components, National hub assemblies, Sealed Power and Speed-Pro engine parts, Wagner ThermoQuiet brakes, and Wagner lighting products.

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Federal-Mogul is a premier global OE and aftermarket manufacturer with such leading brands as ANCO wipers, Champion spark plugs and performance additives, Carter fuel delivery products, Fel-Pro gaskets, MOOG steering and suspension components, National hub assemblies, Sealed Power and Speed-Pro engine parts, Wagner ThermoQuiet brakes, and Wagner lighting products.

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In early 2010, Federal-Mogul launched the innovative “Smart Choice” trade and consumer campaign to reinforce the message that premium replacement parts are the best choice for today’s consumers. The campaign, which continues throughout 2011, includes extensive consumer education combined with attractive incentives ­designed to help connect customers with the best brands and products for their vehicles.
Michael Proud
What are shop owners telling you about the state of their businesses, and how is Federal-Mogul helping them address current market conditions?

Customers are reporting strong bay traffic and a renewed commitment among consumers to make smart ­investments in their vehicles in order to extend service life and maintain safe, reliable performance. It’s not uncommon to see customers invest in premium products in the repair of late-model vehicles with well over 100,000 miles. People are holding on to their cars longer and view maintenance as an investment rather than a necessity. While the economy has been difficult for everyone, it has reminded consumers that the aftermarket is uniquely capable of providing the premium parts needed to keep their vehicles in excellent running order.

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Our responsibility as one of the world’s leading parts manufacturers is to provide high-quality components that are ­engineered specifically for each vehicle and help restore the ­vehicle’s like-new performance and reliability. That means providing installers with clearly differentiated branded products that increase confidence in the repair by solving a problem, making the job easier and improving vehicle performance.

Another key role we play is in ensuring that we provide industry-best coverage and availability across each of our product lines so shop professionals who rely on our brands have access to the right parts for virtually any service occasion and application. We encourage shop professionals to use our convenient www.fme-cat.com electronic catalog to see how extensive Federal-Mogul’s coverage really is.
 
How do you and shop owners ­convince consumers that longer lasting, better performing parts are the best choice?

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Today’s consumers are more educated than ever about vehicle maintenance, and market research shows they are looking for the best long-term value for their repair dollar. That means replacement parts that meet or exceed the OE manufacturer’s standards for fit, performance and reliability.  Manufacturers need to provide tools to help communicate these key product features and benefits for each service ­occasion to help the consumer feel confident in their purchase decision.

Federal-Mogul is the only manufacturer to launch an aggressive, ongoing program that educates consumers about the bottom-line benefits of premium products and provides attractive incentives to help them make the “Smart Choice” when it comes to ­vehicle maintenance. Shops that have embraced our “Smart Choice” program have reported increases in sales and margins in our product categories.

Can you tell us more about the features of the Smart Choice campaign?

Smart Choice is a fully integrated trade and consumer campaign that ­reinforces the message that longer lasting, better performing premium replacement products are today’s best option for repair professionals and their customers. ­Because we are a leading global OE and ­aftermarket manufacturer with brands and products across almost all service categories, we have the ability to combine industry-leading parts with powerful incentives that help drive sales and consumer satisfaction. Every vehicle owner wants to feel like he or she has made a smart repair decision; we provide the educational tools to help make that happen. The 2011 Smart Choice campaign ­begins in February with a ­variety of ­attractive consumer incentives and will ­continue throughout the year.

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What would you say to shop ­owners who are worried that they’ll lose a few customers who just want the lowest possible price.

Entry-level products do make sense for customers who are simply trying to spend as little as possible to keep an older vehicle running. In fact, Federal-Mogul offers attractive options at every price point to help shops capture nearly every service opportunity. But a much larger number of consumers want to get the best overall value and trouble-free performance through each service occasion. Above all, they want this investment to result in longer service life.

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And finally, premium parts are the smarter choice from a business perspective. Whether it’s a MOOG ball joint, Champion spark plug, Wagner ­ThermoQuiet brake pad, Fel-Pro ­gasket or National hub assembly, ­premium parts from Federal-Mogul protect the shop’s bottom line because they are specifically engineered for the vehicle by a global OE supplier, improve vehicle performance, help keep the vehicle on the road longer, and provide a safer and more reliable vehicle for the consumer.

Why are aftermarket part brands so important and what benefit do they offer the shop owner?

Leading brands are very important in any category where the consumer has a significant investment at stake, and there are relatively few purchases that are more expensive than a vehicle.

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In the automotive service market, shops that rely on leading brands are not offering a short-term fix, but reassurance that the part will offer safe, ­reliable performance over the long run. Leading aftermarket manufacturers don’t simply take an OE part and try to copy it, but rather apply their own OE expertise and aftermarket ­insight to ­develop solutions that will provide the best long-term value through exceptional fit and proven ­reliability. Federal-Mogul engineers each of these solutions for the specific application rather than provide extensively consolidated ­designs and technologies that force the service provider to compromise on fit, form or function. And finally, because we provide the latest and best technologies for each application, our brands represent a form of insurance on the shop owner’s reputation and livelihood.

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How does the Smart Choice ­program help shops convince ­consumers that premium parts are often the best choice?

The key is to give the technician, service writer and shop owner the knowledge, materials and third-party validation needed to help the consumer make a smart repair decision.

With the help of our campaign and the consumer-focused www.fmsmartchoice.com website, shop professionals can encourage ­consumers to read up on the real value of better quality parts for a full range of repairs. In this scenario, the shop owner is ­educating the consumer to make the best decision. And the ­incentives available on many Federal-Mogul ­premium products reinforce the ­consumer’s satisfaction that he or she has gotten the best overall value.

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