Global Markets: The Door Is Open

SEMA News—February 2012

CHRIS KERSTING

Global Markets: The Door Is Open

  Chris Kersting-SEMA President and CEO, automotive business, aftermarket news, automotive international 
   
The 2011 SEMA Show is a memory at this point, but some of you who attended the banquet Thursday night might recall our leadership presentation. In it, we highlighted some of the interesting ways that companies are entering new markets and finding new ways to do business.

One area we touched on is the opportunity for sales in overseas markets. Recognizing that the U.S. economy will be slow in the coming years, we think it’s especially important that companies take notice of offshore markets that are healthy and where enthusiasts are eager to buy.

In this issue of SEMA News, you’ll find an article that highlights the Global Media Awards program. For the last eight years, these awards have helped connect SEMA members and their products in key international markets. This is a hugely successful program, involving more than 150 companies and 12 different overseas markets, but it’s only one of many. SEMA members should know that SEMA provides other services and programs that will make it easier to market products overseas. Here are a few examples:

  • International Measuring Sessions: U.S. specialty products have wide appeal around the world. However, there are a number of vehicles that are very popular abroad but not sold in the United States. Now, through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), SEMA will be helping members gain measuring-session access to international models that are not available in the North American market. Some of the high-volume vehicles SEMA members might access could include the Jeep Wrangler Diesel, the Toyota Hilux, an international version of the Chevy Colorado and the Thailand-built Ford Ranger Double Cab. (SEMA recently posted a survey to allow members to vote on which vehicles they most want to see included as a part of this program.
  • One-on-One Matchmaking Programs: SEMA searches out markets where enthusiast passion, market conditions and the vehicle mix indicate good potential for our members’ products. In recent years, some of the fastest-growing markets have been China and the Middle East. To tap into the potential, SEMA has developed single-day matchmaker events that include a series of one-hour, one-on-one meetings with overseas buyers. These quality sales opportunities have been highly rated by the participants. Buyers invited to the one-on-one programs are pre-vetted, and manufacturers get hotels, meals, in-country travel to meetings and site visits included. The next one-on-one event will take place April 17–20 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), allowing SEMA members to meet with qualified buyers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar. Manufacturers interested in this year’s China event, scheduled for September 2012, will soon be able to register online here.
  • Grant Funds: In a very positive development that will help members defray the cost of participating in SEMA export initiatives, the U.S. DOC has named SEMA the recipient of a $500,000 Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) grant. These new funds will be made available to SEMA members participating in SEMA’s one-on-one programs and for other export-generating initiatives. For more information, contact Linda Spencer.

Meanwhile, the SEMA Show remains the premier venue for making international connections. In 2011, international buyer attendance was at an all-time high—up 20% over the previous year. Buyers came from 133 countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Venezuela, Australia, Columbia, China, Canada and Japan, just to name a few. SEMA is working actively to cultivate these buyers. We make the Center for International Commerce available throughout the week, providing private meeting space and interpreters. And we supply the International Buyers’ Guide, a printed resource that lists SEMA Show exhibitors who are interested in overseas markets.

Numerous studies have shown that exporters outperform non-exporters in terms of wages, productivity and innovation, so we hope more SEMA members will look for new ways to make exporting work for their business. In the coming months, we will continue to explore more turnkey export opportunities for our members and make the pathway as smooth as possible.