Anticipation is building as attendees descend on Las Vegas for the 2019 SEMA Show, November 5–8. And why not? Post-Show surveys from last year’s event reported sky-high levels of buyer satisfaction. Among the top attendee objectives were seeing new products (84%), getting ideas (74%), keeping up to date on industry trends (69%), and finding new vendors (58%). Most significant, however, was that an overwhelming majority rated the event as worth the time and cost of attending.
Fifty years ago, the Petersen Publishing Company magazine devoted to the business side of automotive enthusiasm devoted a large number of pages over two issues to cover the 1969 SEMA Show. The quotes reproduced above are the stories’ opening lines. Even five decades later, you can feel the adrenaline rush of enthusiasm and accomplishment the editors were experiencing on their first go-around with the coverage and how that rush transformed with a month’s hindsight into a less jubilant but more confident assessment of what went on at the Anaheim Convention Center in early January—and what it bode for the industry.
Even though expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center is well underway, the 2019 SEMA Show will be held this year largely in the same familiar spaces. But the Show’s features and events, which continually evolve year after year, will reflect and respond to changes in the specialty automotive industry. This year’s Show will offer a mix of some favorite industry events, builds and competitions, along with some brand-new events.
Staying atop the unprecedented explosion of new technologies transforming the automotive world is a crucial yet constant challenge for today’s aftermarket businesses. This is especially true of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), which are already having a major impact on the ways that vehicles are repaired, customized and serviced. In fact, experts maintain that there will be virtually no specialty-equipment segment left untouched by these safety-performance technologies within a few short years.
There’s little doubt that the explosive growth of online sellers has given local retailing a run for its money. Still, while big sellers such as Amazon can be tough competitors, they can’t completely drive traditional brick-and-mortar stores out of business. That’s because local retail outlets have several inherent advantages that the big guys can never match.
More than 170,000 automotive specialty-equipment professionals from all over the world—including 60,000 buyers—are expected to attend the 2019 SEMA Show, November 5–8, in Las Vegas. This year’s Show promises to deliver several new features and opportunities for exhibitors and buyers to connect across the more than 1 million sq. ft. of exhibit space inside and around the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). SEMA Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso offered attendees a preview of what to expect this year as well as tips on how they can make the most efficient use of their time on the Show floor.
Lately, the aftermarket has been asking a lot of questions surrounding youth engagement. Is the upcoming generation still interested in the automotive lifestyle? Is the industry doing enough to attract young people and set them on career paths? And, perhaps most importantly, what new ideas do they bring to the table? In what directions might they take the industry?
The good news for 2019 SEMA Show exhibitors is that the trade-only event is on track to draw more than 60,000 buyers, a large percentage of whom are already deciding which companies they will see. With the Show’s opening just weeks away on Tuesday, November 5, this is the critical point for first-time and veteran exhibitors alike to make sure that their booths and Show strategies are ready to go.
If you’re a buyer destined for the 2019 SEMA Show, now is the time to strategize a successful Show itinerary. First-time exhibitors are of particular interest because they bring never-before-seen products and services to the Show. As of June, more than 250 first-time exhibitors were already on the floorplan, and that data is offered here so you can get busy preparing a list of leads well before your Las Vegas arrival. Seasoned buyers will tell you that this is one of the best ways to hit the ground running and take full advantage of an active Show week.
The automotive specialty-equipment market kept humming along to the tune of $44.6 billion in total parts sales in 2018—a 4% increase over 2017, according to the just-released “2019 SEMA Market Report.” Rumors continue to circulate that young people have disengaged from the automotive aftermarket hobby, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Young customizers spent more than $7 billion on parts.