New Study Examines Pickup Truck Market

SEMA News—June 2011

2011 Report Examines Truck Ownership and Accessory Purchases

   
The “2011 Pickup Truck Report” is now available as a free download to SEMA members and to nonmembers for only $99.95 at www.sema.org/2011pickupreport. It delves even further into the marketplace than the previous report published in 2008.
   
The U.S. light-truck market is incredibly broad. Used for general transportation, commercial applications and recreation, light trucks comprise the single largest category for businesses in the automotive specialty-equipment industry. Indeed, trucks and the accessories built for them are so popular that they have laid claim to their own exhibit hall at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. While the light-truck market encompasses vans, crossovers, SUVs and some specially constructed vehicles, pickups make up the lion’s share of the market for SEMA members. The nation’s first and second top-selling vehicles are—and have been for years—the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickup lines.

SEMA periodically canvasses truck owners to stay abreast of the market, and the association has just released a new survey—“2011 SEMA Pickup Truck Report”—to augment its research findings about the category. The new analysis is now available as a free download to SEMA members and to nonmembers for only $99.95. It supersedes a similar report that was released in 2008 but delves even further into the marketplace.

The 2008 version covered only late-model offerings, focusing on ’07 and ’08 midsize and fullsize pickups. The new report covers a decade’s worth of vehicles, ranging from the ’01 to the ’11 model years. It includes information about 15 individual models as well as sales and popularity data on more than three dozen types of accessories.

The study was conducted by Hedges & Company, the well-known specialty-equipment marketing firm that also produces the monthly SEMA Financial Benchmarking reports and specializes in market research, database marketing and managed e-mail marketing. Hedges & Company surveyed more than 2,000 midsize and fullsize truck owners from across the United States.

“The pickup data and the information about the products that are being purchased are relevant to a very broad cross-section of the SEMA membership,” said Julie Hedges, president of Hedges & Company. “The truck market continues to be the largest segment serviced by SEMA-member distributors, manufacturers and retailers, and we wanted to ensure that the report would be pertinent to all members. This new report is a much more robust look at the market.”

 

Top Ten Accessories Installed/Planned to Install:
’01–’11 Fullsize Pickup Owners

Custom Front Grille 19.60
Air Cleaner/Intake 18.20
Performance Tires 17.90%
Performance Exhaust 14.70%
Custom Floor Mats 10.60%
Custom Wheels 9.80%
Toolbox 9.70%
Navigation Systems 9.70%
Heavy Duty Trailer Hitch 9.60%
Trailer Brake Controller 9.40%

  Table A: The top 10 must-have accessories for fullsize pickups as selected by the respondents in the “2011 SEMA Pickup Truck Report” included custom front grilles, air cleaners and performance tires.
   
The light-truck industry was seriously affected by the economic recession, but the report indicates that pickup sales have begun to rebound. Sales for the third quarter of 2010 were nearly 14% ahead of those in the same period for the previous year, and the pool of respondents remained seemingly aggressive in their purchase decisions. In fact, the report says, owners of ’01–’11 fullsize pickups spend an average of $875 on accessories, with the respondents planning to spend $768 on accessories in the next 12 months. Owners of midsize trucks averaged $486 on accessories, with respondents planning for an additional $536 in the next 12 months.

The preliminary sections of the report contain general information about the overall pickup category, including sales data and engine offerings for the models included in the study. The publication then segregates the two pickup classes, with data collected from fullsize truck owners featured first.

In order to compile the material about accessories, each group was asked a series of questions based on their purchasing experiences and future plans as well as ranking lists of accessories as “must have,” “nice to have” or “not necessary.” Hedges & Company encapsulated the data into appropriate sections accompanied by easy-to-read tables, such as the two reproduced here.

Custom front grilles (see Table A) topped the list of accessories that fullsize pickup owners have installed or planned to install in the next 12 months. Items such as air intakes, performance tires and performance exhaust followed. In the midsize segment, performance tires were number one (see Table B), followed by air intakes, navigation systems and custom front grilles. Additional tables in each section detail the top accessories by pickup make.

The report also examines the sources of information and the types of outlets pickup owners use in researching and shopping for accessories.

“One of the significant findings was the impact of the Internet when people are looking for information,” Hedges said. “Websites were clearly the leading source of information for both midsize and fullsize pickup respondents, but there was nearly an equal split between the Internet and retail stores when it came time to buy.”


Trucks and accessories are so popular that they have laid claim to their own exhibit hall at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas, and SEMA just released a new “2011 SEMA Pickup Truck Report” to augment its research findings about the category.
 
The new “2011 Pickup Truck Report” covers a decade’s worth of vehicles ranging from ’01 to ’11, including 15 individual models as well as more than three dozen of the industry’s most popular accessories.
     
Within the section on purchase research and buying decisions, the report considers the reasons why owners chose specific outlets for specific accessories. For instance, the primary motives among fullsize pickup owners ranged from price for both custom wheels and navigation systems to in-stock availability for air intakes. Price was the prime mover for midsize truck respondents for three of the top accessory categories, including navigation systems, exhaust and custom wheels.

“Another interesting finding was the respondents’ opinions on warranties,” Hedges said. “Warranty concerns were not very high, with only about a quarter of the people expressing any fear. The rest were aware of potential impacts but were not really apprehensive about warranty issues. While 25% of the market is not insignificant, it is lower than many
would expect.”

 
Top 10 Accessories Installed/Planned to Install: ’01–’11 Midsize Pickup Owners

Performance Tires 16.70% Air Cleaner/Intake 15.30%
Navigation Systems 10.20%
Custom Front Grille 8.80%
Heavy-Duty Trailer Hitch 8.80% Performance Exhaust 8.40%
Side Window Drip Guard 8.40%
Custom Wheels 7.40%
Tool Box 7.40%
Bed Mat 7.00%

 

 

Table B: The top 10 accessories selected by midsize pickup owners included performance tires, air intakes and navigation systems.    

   
The pickup report also showed that accessory purchases from automobile dealerships followed many of the same trends that were reported in the recently released “Influence of Accessories on New-Vehicle Sales” (see “Survey Says!,” SEMA News March 2010, and “Accessories Influence New-Car Sales,” SEMA News April 2010). New-pickup buyers who added accessories at the dealership included those purchases in their vehicle-financing package 75% of the time for fullsize vehicles and 68% for midsize. However, the survey respondents also stated that the majority of their accessories were not installed at dealerships, and the report examines the influence that dealership display vehicles had on such purchases.

The full report contains a wealth of information about the marketplace. Obviously, we can touch on only the highlights of the 50-page publication in this preview, but we encourage every business involved in the light-truck accessory industry to download the survey and review its contents. In addition, SEMA Senior Manager of Market Research Gavin Knapp will present a webinar based on the report Thursday, May 26, at 10:00 a.m. PDT/1:00 p.m. EDT. The presentation will then be added to the association’s webinar archive for subsequent download.

Sponsored by SEMA’s Light Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA) council, the webinar will provide a complete overview of the updated research study, including current and upcoming pickup trends that are pertinent to manufacturers, distributors, jobbers, retailers and installers. The presentation will also cover the top pickup accessories; how pickup owners shop for accessories; the top accessories they want for their next trucks; and pickup sales trends.

Complete details about the live webinar or downloads from the archives are available at www.SEMA.org/webinars. SEMA webinars are free to SEMA members and only $29 for nonmembers.

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