Restyling and Car-Care Market Shines Despite Recession

  car care
  Car-care products, such as polish, will help to produce that new-car shine.

As the world’s premier automotive specialty-products trade show, the 2010 SEMA Show, to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from November 2–5, 2010, attracts more than 100,000 industry leaders from more than 100 countries and also provides a unique opportunity for buyers and exhibitors to connect.

The Show covers the entire realm of the specialty-equipment industry and is comprised of 13 categories: Business Services; Global Tire Expo—Powered by TIA; Hot Rod Alley; Mobile Electronics & Technology; Paint, Body & Equipment; Powersports & Utility Vehicles; Racing & Performance; Restoration Marketplace; Restyling & Car Care Accessories; Tools & Equipment; Trucks, SUVs and Off-Road; Wheels & Accessories; and OEM.

Each will be highlighted separately every week in SEMA eNews. This week’s category is Restyling & Car Care Accessories. So far, 212 restyling and car-care accessories companies—of which, 58 are first-timers—are exhibiting in the North Hall.

In 2009, 25,086 buyers went to Las Vegas specifically to bring the newest restyling and car-care offerings from the Show floor into their own retail shops.

The restyling and car-care accessories market is made up of products used to modify a vehicle’s interior or exterior after it has left the factory, as well as those for cleaning and maintenance. Appearance and accessory products are often a consumer’s first contact with the automotive specialty-equipment industry. The trend to customize one’s vehicle was born out of the desire for consumers to create something unique that fits their personal lifestyle. Restyling products, which include sunroofs, ground effects, grille guards and drop-center bumpers, are functional; however, many consumers purchase them for their aesthetic appeal. Car-care products including vacuums, chemicals and more.

“The SEMA Show is like fashion week for the auto industry, and many of the most fashionable accessories are from the restyling and car-care market,” said Peter MacGillivray, SEMA vice president of communications and events. “Because products in the segment appeal to a wide audience, an increasing number of buyers are expanding into the restyling and car-care market. In fact, nearly 50% of buyers at the 2009 SEMA Show sought products in this market.”

As the largest segment of the industry and the only one to have increased its market share over the years, the restyling and car-care accessories market went from 51.1% market share in 1996 to 57.6% in 2006. Sales of specialty accessories and appearance products were estimated at $21.14 billion at the retail level in 2006.

The Professional Restylers Organization (PRO)
is a SEMA council dedicated to addressing the challenges facing the restyling segment of the automotive aftermarket and to developing effective strategies for dealing with industry-specific issues.

In 2009, 25,086 buyers went to Las Vegas specifically to bring the newest restyling and car-care offerings from the Show floor into their own retail shops.  

One of the most profound effects of the recession was the decline in U.S. vehicle sales, which plummeted from nearly 17 million in 2006 to about 10.6 million in 2009, according to Ward’s AutoWorld. And while the downturn impacted nearly every aspect of the automotive aftermarket, some of the greatest damage occurred in the restyling category, whose very existence is based on available vehicle inventory. Conversely, the recession and market forces also caused OEMs to change the way they develop and market their products.

Gone are the days when each automaker produced a multitude of variants, each of which was accompanied by seemingly unending options lists. In order to save costs, the OEMs have decreased their offerings to restricted trim levels in the most popular models of the strongest brands. These variety limitations will prove to be a boon for restylers, industry leaders say. As the OEMs reduce the range of packages they offer, restylers can fill the gaps.

“Decontenting by manufacturers to lower costs will provide a lot of opportunities to accessorize and restyle,” said Karl Stearns, president of KMS Marketing Solutions and chairman of the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO). “Manufacturers also frequently bundle certain popular items, such as spoilers, with other pricey options, and the whole package pushes the vehicle out of the price range for buyers.

"It produces vehicles that consumers don’t necessarily want, with upgraded trim packages or performance features that must be purchased to obtain the few items the buyer does want. Restylers can make the popular parts available to dealers so that vehicles can be niche-marketed while eliminating the expensive, undesirable options.”

Knowledgeable dealers have come to understand that restyling provides a significant marketing opportunity. While the OEMs reduce their offerings, restylers are taking advantage of new techniques and technologies to provide products and services that are otherwise unavailable.

For more information on the restyling and car-care market, click here.


Buyers, exhibitors and media: Click here to register or reserve your space for the 2010 SEMA Show.

Click here to view the online floorplan.