KYB: a safely driven incursion into b2c

KYB Italy is an important supplier of shock absorbers, springs and kits in the automotive aftermarket sector. The company’s communication is aimed essentially at its trade channel, which in turn can convey the positive aspects of the shocks to car drivers. Communicating directly to consumer audiences is normally expensive and dispersive for a company whose essence is b2b, even though, as is the case with KYB, its products are actually used by millions of end users. Increasing the notoriety of the brand among car drivers, costs permitting, would however be useful. Using Atlantide as a guide, KYB succeeded in experiencing the thrill of an annual campaign specifically designed to reach both trade operators and the general public, respecting budget limitations thanks to particularly favourable situations – including the company’s tenth anniversary, an occurrence which the agency succeeded in turning into a successful media event.


KYB Italy is the Italian branch of the Japanese multinational company, KYB, one of the main manufacturers of car shock absorbers, both original equipment and aftermarket parts. The Italian branch was founded in 2002; the company was always oriented towards marketing, and in 2009 the agency carried out a marked restructuring of its communication activities, starting its cooperation with Atlantide – a partnership that has continued ever since.

KYB, just like most car parts manufacturers, communicates mainly to its trade channel, that is, to distributors, parts dealers and car repair shops. Repair professionals are normally entrusted with the choice of a car part: only rarely do car owners know enough about the parts market to ask for a specific brand. Ideally, a well-informed car owner could demand the use of shocks of a specific brand, but this would require a notoriety that is quite difficult to obtain for a product which is, and remains, essentially b2b.

A step forward to increase the awareness on consumers’ part of the KYB brand was however taken in 2012, exploiting the particular condition of the consumer press market, which temporarily challenged the downward trend in advertising investments with attractive price policies and aggressive discount schemes. The particularly favourable conditions created by the publishing market’s situation coincided with the tenth anniversary of the Italian branch’s foundation; the company decided to turn this first decade’s celebration into an opportunity for greater visibility, allocating a specific budget to this event.

Atlantide exploited the occasion of these simultaneous favourable circumstances by suggesting a communication strategy, which kept in mind the historical relationship of the company with its distribution, while at the same time aiming at a greater brand notoriety among consumer audiences too.

In order to reach this ambitious objective, action was taken on several fronts, while maintaining an impeccable overall coordination: to begin with, media planning for the very first time included several b2c magazines, with many special positions; the campaign was designed to intrigue both targets and coverage of issues not included in the media plan was guaranteed by an intense press office activity, essential in order to obtain considerable visibility even with few advertisements per magazine.

Web visibility was amplified by press office activity dedicated to online versions of magazines, and for he occasion a newsletter was created; dedicated to the company’s trade channel, it was used to communicate to the distribution system the details of the investments aimed at end users, knowing that distributors are of course pleased to offer a brand that invests in communication. The company decided to communicate to its resellers the value of the b2c investment and the target contacts that this would have generated, communicating in advance which weekly and monthly magazines would have featured the advertisements and having copies of these magazines sent out to their points of sale. Trade operators could therefore experience first-hand the action taken by KYB to increase notoriety and appreciation of the brand they deal with.

In 2012 other occasions arose to talk about the company: apart from the new products that the company offers to the public every year, this year’s novelties included the 10th anniversary celebrations, the creation of an APP (the first, in KYB’s market segment) and a remarkable presence on Social media.

The anniversary event was organized by Atlantide with great care, from the choice of the location – Turin’s Car Museum, a highly evocative venue for whoever deals with the automotive world – to the preparation of the background scenography for the press conference, right up to entertainment – a tour of the museum with professional actors as guides – and the gala dinner, planned in every detail to coordinate with the company’s image, from tables to decorations right up to the customised birthday cake.

The type of event allowed an efficient communication which was taken care of using press office activities aimed at trade and consumer magazines, both those included as well as those not included in the media plan, and using the social media pages that the agency set up for KYB Italy.

Besides the presence on the most popular social medium – Facebook – the YouTube channel also proved particularly appropriate to communicate to trade operators and consumers alike the advantages of KYB’s product offer, using video tutorials, very useful for a correct fitting of shocks. The agency also developed an APP for the choice of the most appropriate shock for each car; presented during the celebration of the tenth anniversary, this APP obtained considerable media coverage both on and off line.

The effects of the strategy enacted during the tenth anniversary were positive and long-lasting; KYB’s brand awareness was reinforced (as confirmed by a successive trade customer satisfaction analysis carried out by Atlantide) and the cooperation with Atlatnide continues with excellent results. In-depth knowledge of the client’s characteristics and of the industry allows the agency to select only the most appropriate communication tools, chosen among the ones that can renew themselves as the context varies, so as to seize all the opportunities offered by the market and its evolutions.

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