SEMA News - May 2010

Market conditions dictate how companies develop their operating strategies. Evaluating the business environment becomes increasingly important when the economy goes through the kind of turbulence we’ve seen over the past two years. Part of SEMA’s mission is to help member companies assess current conditions and make choices based on hard facts and real trends. The association’s market research programs have been developed and honed to provide that type of real-world analysis. The most recent of these initiatives—the Enthusiast Opinion Leader Program—was unveiled at the 2009 SEMA Show as an exclusive benefit free of charge for members who exhibited or attended the Show. The program is yet another example of the added value realized by SEMA Show participants.

The Enthusiast Opinion Leader Program drew upon the insights of more than 240 consumer opinion leaders who were SEMA’s guests at the Show. These enthusiasts—specially selected from a pool of 1,500 who submitted applications to take part—used social media to describe their experiences, discuss the products they saw and report on trends. Four SEMA reports have been generated based on the data gathered, some from the entire application pool and others from selected guests who also took part in two focus groups during the Show. One report highlights demographics and information about the accessories the enthusiasts had purchased and the types of vehicles they modified, and others look at the influence of gas prices on enthusiast purchases and enthusiast buying behavior.

The Enthusiast Opinion Leader Program will be repeated at the 2010 SEMA Show, with results again provided on an exclusive basis. Watch for announcements to be made about the program in the coming months, and contact Megan McKernan at for more information.

I’d also like to draw your attention to the Financial Benchmarking Program. This program collects selected financial data from each segment in the distribution channel—manufacturers, distributors and retailers—in the form of a protected, confidential monthly questionnaire that takes only about 5–10 minutes to fill out. After the resulting data is aggregated each month, participating companies receive a copy of the “SEMA Financial Benchmarking Report” for their specific segment. The report includes sales tracking and sales forecast data as well as average gross margin, quick ratio, operational overhead, shipping costs, R&D, customer returns, advertising/marketing, inventory turns and more. The reports give SEMA-member companies financial benchmarks that they can use in their decision making, allowing them to compare their costs, expenses and sales forecasts with similar operations and helping them to identify areas where they can improve and grow their businesses. For details about how to receive this invaluable information, contact Megan McKernan.

Another program—one that goes hand-in-glove with the benchmarking tool—tracks future trends based on direct input from the buyers of automotive products. The SEMA Consumer Demand Index provides information about what products are expected to sell and what types of vehicles are expected to be modified in the near future. Each month, an independent research firm contracted by SEMA gathers data from about 900 consumers using a random digital dialing survey. The consumers are asked about their purchase intentions for the coming quarter, and the data is then used to create information about appearance products, racing and performance products and wheels, tires and suspension components. The resulting reports—free to SEMA members and only $49.95 for non-members—have proven to track closely with the Consumer Confidence Index. The reports are available online here. For more information about the Consumer Demand Index, contact Megan McKernan.

As the economy fluctuates and markets react, every business should seek up-to-date and relevant information in order to make informed decisions. SEMA can help. Take advantage of your SEMA membership and contact us today to get these vital information resources working for you. 

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