Market Snapshot


The most effective marketing tools can also be the most traditional. Getting product information in front of consumers could rely on marketing diversification and an understanding of the target demographic.

According to the latest SEMA market research, some of the most common resources for customers are the most established. Despite the necessity of having an online presence, consumers still find conventional means valuable. Each market has slightly different characteristics, but many of the avenues represent opportunities to leave an impression and communicate with the end consumer.

In the latest installment of SEMA's Automotive Lifestyles Survey, consumers were asked where they turn to find information about products before they consider purchasing. The top three resources for each market niche have been highlighted. Enthusiast magazines continue to be the most widely used asset, irrespective of market. Traditional hot rodders and teens alike turn to hard print as guides for their lifestyles. Product reviews, articles, installation guides and advertisements still have an influential role in transmitting information.

Additionally, the benefit of tangible material—something physical to hold and see—is hard to replace. In the same manner, catalogs have not been dispossessed of their role. Enthusiasts of all types continue to regard these items as building blocks for their decisions. Not only do they create awareness visually, but they often answer questions about application, installation and compatibility that give consumers the confidence to pursue an item.

Differences do exist. For example, these resources are fairly more important to older enthusiasts. When considering the demographics of each niche, it is not surprising that people interested in musclecars, street rods, customs and light trucks prefer traditional media. Be it for nostalgia, habit or accessibility, the older generations of hobbyists side with print sources.

Conversely, younger generations, most notably in the compact-performance market, lean heavily towards Internet-related content. Granted, manufacturers have adapted well to the Internet and most have their catalogs available on their webpage. Thus it's not surprising that these resources are enjoyed across the board.

The difference, however, is that automotive forums have in large part replaced the "live" component for younger enthusiasts. Instead of seeking information from trusted peers and publications, they establish channels online to interact virtually and search for information from secondary sources.

Even car shows and events represent a minor discrepancy. Traditional enthusiasts use them as venues for resources more often than their younger peers. Some conventional car shows have shifted into lifestyle events with external elements that seek to entertain rather than inform, leaving their main impetus in an evolutionary role.

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