Market Snapshot


According to information from The NPD Group, a consumer and retail information company, marketers of vehicle appearance products (i.e. car care) could see a boost in business this spring. The firm reports 12% of consumers surveyed last fall indicated they would spend more money on vehicle appearance this year; only 4% said they would spend less.

Early spring data indicates that consumers may be following through on their promises. Based upon NPD’s Early Indicator Report on sales through the auto-parts channel, dollar sales for appearance products and accessories were more than 17% higher in the month of March 2007 versus the same month in 2006.

“Traditionally, the spring season brings consumers outside and into the driveway for some much needed car care” said David Portalatin, director of industry analysis for the NPD Group. He adds, “The growth we’ve seen so far is especially encouraging, given that winter has lingered in many parts of the country a bit later than usual.”

Portalatin sees an opportunity for a broader impact beyond just appearance. He stated, “Marketers of aftermarket products and services should consider how they can leverage this opportunity to drive sales in many categories. They should look for ways to take advantage of any lift in consumer traffic that may be generated by automotive spring cleaning. For example, think about bundling and cross-promoting maintenance and/or repair-related categories to help consumers take care of their cars inside and out.”

NPD’s Car Care Trac adds insight into the appearance-product consumer to help automotive products manufacturers and retailers make the most of this marketplace opportunity. The data shows that although vehicle appearance is a concern for drivers across the demographic spectrum, consumers ages 18–24 are a bit more likely to purchase appearance products. This segment is quite image-conscious, and this attitude extends to their vehicles, especially this time of year. In addition, higher-income consumers are also more likely to buy appearance products. These consumer segments may hold the key to unlocking big sales this spring.

Having the right brands will also be an important factor, according to the NPD Group. When asked how they would respond if their preferred appearance-product brand was not available, one out of four consumers said they would not make the purchase at that time. One in five would go to a different store to find their preferred brand. Consumers also cited ease of use as playing a role in their brand choice. In fact, the average do-it-yourself consumer is 37% more likely to say “ease of use” was a reason for choosing a particular brand.

Although favorite brands and ease of use are driving forces in vehicle-appearance purchases, nearly half of the do-it-yourself appearance-product consumers make their purchases impulsively. These consumers are 47% more likely to decide to buy products once they have gone into the store, heightening the importance of in-store placement, promotion and appealing packaging.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. (May 2, 2007). “NPD Reports Consumers Will Spend More On Vehicle Appearance This Year.” The NPD Group, Inc. press release.