Forecasting the demand of specialty-equipment parts and accessories provides an invaluable tool for strategic market planners and helps answer one ongoing question: How will industry sales do in the coming months? To help answer this question, SEMA commissioned the market-research firm TechnoMetrica to survey consumers every month in order to gauge their specialty-equipment purchase intentions over the next three following months. In June, their nationally representative sample of 1,000 consumers—which represents approximately 114 million U.S. households—showed a slight increase in the number of consumers planning on purchasing specialty equipment over the next three months.

In June 2007, 22% of adult American drivers (or approximately 22 million households) indicated that they had plans to purchase specialty-equipment, a 1% increase from May. By product, wheels, tires and suspension components still remained the most popular specialty-equipment products consumers were likely to purchase (16% or 16 million households), followed by specialty accessories and appearance products (9% or 9 million households) and racing and performance products (8% or 8 million households)—each of these figures mirror those found in May.

It is interesting to note that as the age of drivers gets higher, the plans to purchase industry products goes down. Roughly two out of five (41%) of the 18–24 group intends to modify their vehicle, while only 12% of drivers 65 and older plan to do so. The pattern holds true even as we look at the three major segments of products that make up the industry. As you look at the table above, notice that the percentage of consumers planning to make a purchase has risen in some cases (as indicated by the +/- in parenthesis).

The graph below shows three-month moving averages of the types of vehicles marked for accessorization. For example, the last data plot in the graph represents the average over the last three months whereas the first data plot represents the average over the first three months of 2007.

Over the last three months, on average, midsize vehicles were the most common target vehicles for enhancement or modification (22%), followed by pickups (18%), fullsize cars (15%) and compact cars (14%). The fact that pickups come in at second shows that consumers are still passionate and anticipate customizing their vehicles regardless of the impact of fuel prices.

The graph below shows three-month moving averages of the preferred distribution channels for specialty-equipment purchases of those surveyed. Over the last three months, on average, car dealerships and chain auto-parts stores were tied for first place in terms of being the most popular purchase destinations among those planning to enhance their vehicles (27%, respectively), while independent parts stores held second place (15%).

Source: SEMA Research & Information Center