Market Snapshot


A recent SEMA survey highlights the hobbies enthusiasts have both in and away from their vehicles. Some of the findings are inherent to those involved in the hobby and relatively obvious, while others shed light on generational differences between those on either end of the age spectrum.

During the past few months, SEMA polled more than 3,000 enthusiasts as part of the Automotive Lifestyles Survey. Respondents were asked to weigh in on their favorite pastimes and outline the hobbies and activities they participate in most. Popular shared hobbies include working on cars, going to car shows, driving for pleasure and reading automotive magazines. 

These should come as no surprise as they are typically the defining characteristics of automotive hobbyists; they separate this group from mainstream consumers. Furthermore, six of the top 10 hobbies reported were car-centric.

The major differences do indicate a separation of values between the oldest and youngest groups, signaling a changing environment and shifting consumer behavior. Large differences of 20% or more have been highlighted in the chart. Some of the most notable include forms of entertainment such as Internet surfing (+26%), listening to music (+40%) and playing video games (+65%).

Not only have some of these technologies become more accessible in the last few decades, but they have become more powerful and portable in connecting consumers with their hobbies in all situations. What were once purely static household features have become mobile gadgets integrated into practically every new appliance.

Other forms of active entertainment are also more popular with younger groups than older ones: going to movies (+38%) and concerts (+23%); clubbing (+23%); playing sports such as football, baseball, basketball and hockey (+33%); and extreme sports (+27%). Granted, these are normally associated with younger groups to begin with, but it remains important to report them just the same.

Older enthusiasts subscribe to a more relaxed pace for their hobbies, preferring to spend time in more conservative lifestyles. For them, some of the activities with the largest difference include domestic travel (-18%), investing (-21%) and gardening (-25%).

These differences should not overshadow the overwhelming similarities between enthusiasts of all ages. The passion for the hobby is the same across the range, but age differences do play a factor in how individuals choose to participate. Understanding how non-automotive hobbies are influencing the perspectives, behaviors and preferences of consumers can help members of the specialty-equipment market connect with their target audiences. 

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