SEMA News - September 2010

BEST PRACTICES

By Steve Campbell

Delivering the Right Parts to the Right Markets

  SEMA News-September 2010-Business 
 

This series of SEMA News stories is based on the idea of using reliable and repeatable methods to ensure business success. In coming issues, we will delve into a range of topics aimed at developing Best Practices through knowledge, motivation and skills.   

   

Companies that wish to extend their reach beyond U.S. borders can branch into emerging automotive markets that offer huge potential for increased sales. The keys to successful international ventures are careful research and reasonable expectations. The first step is to discover what vehicles are available in the target locale, and the second is to discover what products resonate with consumers there. SEMA offers several programs that can help get member companies started.

Study the Market Reports

Chief among the resources available through the association are the SEMA Market Reports, which are available for a wide range of countries in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia. (To access the reports, select either “Resources by Region” or “Resources by Country.”) The reports deliver valuable data about selling products in the selected markets. Each provides a summary of the locale’s demographics and market status, an overview of the top vehicles sold and accessorized in the area, market and import trends, best sales prospects and an overview of the competitive situation. In addition, the reports provide an analysis of the consumers and end users in the market as well as a look at how the market may be accessed (i.e., through repair facilities or retail outlets). Each report concludes with a list of the area’s trade events and key contact information for press, distributors and importers. In some cases, a report may also include an overview of the area’s business rules and regulations and may include duty rates, taxes and other pertinent charges.

The association also offers international vehicle reports that list the top-selling cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans in a variety of countries, including make, model and units sold, and the SEMA website’s international pages include dozens of Department of Commerce reports on the accessories and auto parts industry.

Take Advantage of the SEMA Show

  SEMA News-September 2010-Business 
 

SEMA Market Reports provide a summary of demographics and market status, an overview of the top vehicles sold and accessorized in a given area as well as market and import trends, best sales prospects and an overview of the competitive situation.  

   
There may be no better U.S. venue for developing global contacts and learning about international markets than the resources available at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. An ever-expanding group of exhibitors and buyers come to the event from around the world to seek and buy new products, and the association hosts networking and educational activities throughout the Show (held the first week of November each year) where companies can make contacts, review possible markets and obtain practical advice from companies that are already active in the various locations.

One of the first places to visit during the SEMA Show for those interested in developing a global presence is the Center for International Commerce (CIC). The CIC provides conference rooms, interpreters, Internet access, international specialty-equipment magazines and up-to-date lists of SEMA Show international buyers and various international reports. It is a terrific place to network with other business people who are active in global commerce. SEMA personnel at the CIC also have information about U.S. Embassy, Consulate and Department of Commerce representatives who can offer export counseling and facilitate meetings with U.S. exhibitors.

SEMA also hosts an annual International Happy Hour at the SEMA Show. The event is an informal gathering place for hundreds of exhibitors and international buyers and offers the opportunity to develop relationships between potential distributors and overseas customers. The International Happy Hour is free on a first-come, first-served basis, but tickets are required to attend. Interested attendees at the Show may register at the CIC.

The 2010 International Happy Hour will include the seventh annual Global Media Awards Program. Top international journalists serve as judges, each reviewing and evaluating the more than 2,000 new-product entries at the SEMA Show before selecting their picks for the products they feel will appeal most to consumers in their home countries. The types of products that find success differ in response to consumer uses, demographics and lifestyle factors in the various markets. The Global Media Awards program can help manufacturers learn about the markets and identify products that interest buyers in a specific region or country.

  SEMA News-September 2010-Business 
 

SEMA trade missions often include visits to consumer or trade shows, where attendees are able to gauge the suitability of their products to the local market. Such missions provide an opportunity for companies with global aspirations to investigate a country’s or region’s business environment and better understand the area’s market potential.  

   
The SEMA Show now provides a program that matches buyers with the products they’re seeking. The matches are based on demographic questions the buyers answer during the registration process. All of the products that a buyer selects as items of interest are matched to suppliers who are exhibiting at the SEMA Show. In the event that new exhibitors register for the Show, buyers receive updated match notifications.

Exhibitors involved in international commerce are also provided with multilingual “We Export” signs for display at their SEMA Show booths, encouraging international buyers to stop and establish relationships.

The SEMA International Buyers’ Guide is another outlet for companies that are interested in global marketing for their products. SEMA Show exhibitors are listed in the guide, which is distributed to every international buyer attending the SEMA Show and is also shipped to more than 50 U.S. embassies throughout the world, including key overseas trade shows in Germany, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Italy, Brazil and South America. There is no charge to be included in the SEMA International Buyers’ Guide.

Join SEMA Trade Missions and Attend Overseas Trade Shows

SEMA periodically organizes trade missions to emerging global automotive markets. SEMA’s missions provide the opportunity for member companies to travel with its international and executive staff to meet government officials and industry contacts from wholesale, distribution and retail businesses. The missions often include visits to consumer or trade shows, where attendees are able to gauge the suitability of their products to the local market. Such missions provide an opportunity for companies with global aspirations to investigate a country’s or region’s business environment and better understand the area’s market potential.

Use Global Media for Research and Coverage

  SEMA News-September 2010-Business 
 

Specialty-equipment magazines published for specific global markets are an invaluable research source and can also serve as prime advertising venues when a company chooses to market its products overseas. 

   
Specialty-equipment magazines published for specific global markets are an invaluable research source and can also serve as prime advertising outlets when a company chooses to market its products overseas. Even publications that aren’t offered in English provide visual clues about the vehicles and products that are currently doing well in a given segment. SEMA offers a database of media contacts, and numerous international magazines from around the world are available at the CIC during the SEMA Show, including publications from key markets, such as Japan, Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela.

For an in-depth discussion of how to approach global media for coverage of your company and its products, visit here to download a copy of the SEMA News magazine story, “Global Press Coverage.”

Become Aware of International Property Rights

There are regulatory differences between the U.S. and offshore markets, and any company planning to do business in a foreign market should investigate how to protect its intellectual property rights (IPR). Items such as trademarks, patents and domain names can be treated very differently. SEMA News, SEMA eNews and www.SEMA.org have published a variety of articles about IPR. A recent webinar entitled “Fine Tuning Your China IPR Strategy: Know Before You Go” as well as an article in this issue of SEMA News entitled “The Allure of China” (p. 98) both discuss the precautions exporting companies should pursue to protect their rights. The SEMA website also contains general information about IPR for product importers as well as exporters. Additional information on developing an IPR strategy is available here. A copy of the recent IPR webinar is available online here.

SEMA members may also contact SEMA Director of International Relations Linda Spencer at 202/783-4032 or for more information on any of the association’s international programs.  

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