Market Snapshot


SEMA members have a wealth of market research information available to them that is designed to keep decision makers up-to-date on the latest trends. For example, the following is a short excerpt from the “2006 SEMA Compact Performance Market Report”:

Demographics—Consumer Profile

It’s no secret that this industry has a disproportionate leaning towards males, but a growing number of female enthusiasts have changed the landscape, participating in everything from customizing to racing. This is especially true for this niche. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, our survey was skewed heavily towards men; much more so than in the actual market. While we estimate female participation to inch closer to 20%, the participants from this survey were just 3%–4%. Other sources, such as Foresight Research, the Sports Car Club of America and SEMA’s past research indicate that men comprise roughly 79%–83% of the market, with the ratio of females climbing steadily. Keep this factor in mind when viewing the following information and express caution when applying these results to your market. 


The age range of enthusiasts from our study coincides with the slight shift we have seen at events. The segment is often labeled the youth market, but such a title is no longer a precise fit, as the average age hovers around 25–27 years old. Older enthusiasts have embraced this segment, younger ones have been attracted like the ones before them and the original base has retained interest while growing older. The spectrum has stretched to incorporate a broader range of people. We are seeing groups in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s who are just as motivated to customize their compacts as the younger crowd, but the majority of consumers have been spread to fit the 18–30 range. Also, the “youth-market” application can be misapplied. For one reason in particular—some young enthusiasts also like musclecars, off-road vehicles, light trucks and hot rods—the title misrepresents the youth market as a whole. 



More than half (58%) of those surveyed attended some amount of college, with 25% obtaining a degree. More telling, 89% had graduated high school. This illustrates a bump in education compared to previous years and could explain the growing trend of consumers adopting research into their buying decisions. We have witnessed the rise of Internet searches, tech forums and product reviews which all imply a general increase in awareness and the ability to conduct research. This new generation of tech-savvy consumers value proven results and has the capability of tracking down meaningful information before going to market.


True to their age, many compact-performance enthusiasts are full-time college students. They balance their hobby with a desire to better educate themselves. For careers, 24% of those surveyed came from skilled trades or technical professions. These industries lend themselves to hands-on working environments, and often those skills can be carried into other passions, such as car customizing. Other popular positions include serving the community and working as salespeople and middle managers. Only 6.8% claimed to work directly in the automotive industry.

Household Income

Household income can be difficult to assess as participants dislike divulging personal information, even if their anonymity is assured. More than 12% of respondents abstained from giving their household incomes, a dip from the previous year when nearly 20% did not want to reveal their incomes. A nationwide economic slump could have caused people to be more secretive about their status. Regardless, the average household income has risen steadily over the past few years to $47,000, in line with inflation.

SEMA members can receive a complimentary copy of the “2006 SEMA Compact Performance Market Report” as another benefit to being a SEMA member. This data-intensive report may be downloaded by visiting

Source: SEMA Research & Information Center