The Unlikely Connection Between Michelin Stars and Tires

The Unlikely Connection Between Michelin Stars and Tires

October 11, 2023

 The Unlikely Connection Between Michelin Stars and Tires

We're stepping a bit outside our usual discussions to explore a tale of remarkable business strategy. Have you ever wondered what Michelin-starred restaurants have to do with the tires on your car? Prepare to be surprised!

The "Tire-d" Tale of Michelin Man

Captured here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Captured here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a team member meticulously scrapes away built-up rubber and debris from the tires used in qualifying—a set they're required to start the race on. This ritual isn't just maintenance; it's a delicate balance of speed and strategy. With every scrape, the team optimizes the tire's performance for a high-stakes journey around the track. Just as Michelin guides us through culinary journeys worth the wear on our tires, this behind-the-scenes act highlights the intricate dance of engineering and strategy that makes motorsport so captivating.


Let's start with the Michelin Man, or Bibendum as he is formally known. This jolly, rotund figure has been the face of Michelin tires since 1894. Did you know he's white because rubber tires were initially white? Yes, you heard it right! Tires turned black only in 1912 when carbon chemicals were mixed into the rubber. This wasn't a fashion statement but a move towards better durability. It's the same principle as adding special ingredients to a recipe to make it last longer and taste better.

Now, Let's Talk Stars

Michelin didn't stop at making your car's shoes; they wanted you to actually use them. But how do you encourage people to travel more and wear out their tires faster? Enter the Michelin Guide. Originally, this guide was a handy booklet that included maps, tire repair instructions, and lists of places to eat or take a break. Eventually, it evolved into a full-fledged restaurant review guide that introduced the Michelin stars we're familiar with today.

Here's how the Michelin stars break down:

  • One star: "A very good restaurant in its category"
  • Two stars: "Excellent cooking, worth a detour"
  • Three stars: "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey"

The Psychology of a Star

While the guide was aimed at getting you in your car to dine at these stellar establishments, it had a deeper psychological play. It subtly manipulated you into believing that a meal at a two-star or three-star restaurant is not just a meal but an experience "worth a detour" or "worth a special journey." This nudge made us travel distances we normally wouldn't, for the promise of exceptional cuisine—wearing down our tires in the process.

What Can We Learn?

The Michelin story is more than just an amusing tale; it’s a masterclass in business strategy. Michelin found a clever way to integrate their primary product—tires—with something universally relatable: food. By leveraging our desires for unique experiences and good food, they encouraged us to travel more and, in turn, buy more tires.

Isn't it fascinating how a tire company can subtly influence our lifestyle choices? It's an important reminder to stay vigilant and critically think about the choices we make, even when they're as simple as choosing a restaurant for dinner.

Sidenote for Curious Minds: If this discussion on business strategy has piqued your curiosity about how various choices can impact your financial life, you might find some intriguing insights on the McKee Financial Resources Blog (

Stay curious and tread wisely

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.

Article written by: Anthony Owens

Copyright © 2023 Anthony Owens @ Thriving Wealth Hub.

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