The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has released a new market research report prepared by Hedges & Company covering results of the SEMA Show Opinion Leaders program. This is important to aftermarket companies because the feedback from the Opinion Leaders market research program is a big opportunity to better understand the buying process used by automotive enthusiasts.
As with the previous year, Opinion Leaders Program participants were granted access to the SEMA Show. These enthusiasts completed a detailed survey to share their opinions and buying habits, and shared impressions from the SEMA Show through social media using their personal account or their car club affiliation.
An important conclusion from the report: Almost universally enthusiasts associate “performance” with “an improvement in function” and not necessarily with “speed.” This is worth noting because the automotive aftermarket often associates “performance” with horsepower. A restoration enthusiast is likely to refer to a replacement radio as “improved performance” just like an off-road enthusiast is also likely to refer to a new suspension as “improved performance” while rock-crawling at 5 mph.
In the report, one motorsports enthusiast explained his personal buying process like this: “I tend to go by word of mouth. If a company is ‘making waves’ with a part, that’s the one I tend to look at first. Name brands kind of get stuck in a mindset and do things the same way they’ve been done for 20 years. New companies come along and they come at it a completely different way, and it ends up working better. So whoever is ‘making waves,’ that’s the first place I go.”
In the Opinion Leaders report, it was revealed that 83% of these enthusiasts use Internet searches, such as Google, to find information on parts and accessories for their vehicle, while 79% said they have purchased at least one part on the Internet. As one focus group enthusiast put it: “The Internet is your friend.” Many of these enthusiasts were active on Facebook and Twitter, although social media did not play a significant role in the decision-making process to purchase aftermarket parts.
The report revealed these enthusiasts spend a significant amount of time and money on their hobby. Over a third reported spending over $5,000 per year. About 85% purchase parts and accessories for more than one vehicle.
“The information that we gathered from the Opinion Leaders Program will give SEMA-member companies a better understanding of their end users, which will help them make better-informed business decisions,” said Tom Myroniak, SEMA vice president of marketing and member services.
In total, more than 400 consumer Opinion Leaders were allowed to attend the SEMA Show. Fifty-six Opinion Leaders participated in one of six focus groups conducted by Hedges & Company: Truck/SUV; Street Performance and Sport Compacts; Street Rod and Hot Rod, Classic Car and Restoration; Motorsports; and Powersports. The 89-page market research report was made available at no cost to SEMA Show exhibitors, as well as SEMA-member companies at SEMA.org/research. A story on the market research report appears here on the SEMA eNews site. For information on becoming a member of SEMA go here.