SEMA News—July 2011

Our Annual Market Study Is Out…and More Top-Notch Research

  Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO  
SEMA members tell us that market research is at the top of their list as a key member benefit. That’s understandable: With good research it’s possible to plan ahead, take advantage of growing trends and navigate thoroughly challenging times. With no research, or poorly conducted research, we’re all navigating without a compass.

Couple that with the fact that building a clear picture of any given market is expensive, time consuming and difficult to conduct reliably, and it’s easy to see why this is an area where SEMA can make a big contribution to member success. For most of our members, high-quality research is a tool too expensive to afford out of their own pockets.

Here at SEMA, we’ve made a decision to ramp up the resources dedicated to providing members with best-in-class market research.

A case in point is the just-released annual 2011 Market Report, which focuses on three core product segments and nine aftermarket enthusiast niches. This study has something for everybody in the industry. It was compiled by combining data from interviews with manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers with data from consumer surveys and government sources. Included are snapshots from ongoing SEMA research projects, such as the Consumer Demand Index and the Financial Benchmark reports. In a nutshell, it shows the size and shape of the industry, trends over time and reveals the beginnings of an overall market upturn in 2010. It’s available now for download—free to SEMA members—on A summary appears starting on p. 53 of this issue.

Even while we were compiling the annual Market Report, we spent a lot of time surveying members, asking about how to improve SEMA’s market research. The feedback indicated that, while our industry-focused studies are good, SEMA members want more
market-specific information—and especially more research on consumers themselves.

Based on that feedback, we are planning 2011 studies that will supply a better picture of the consumer. These studies will look at the broader population to define people who are not currently on our radar screen. The idea is to take a closer look at the entire range of people in our market, from hardcore enthusiasts—the only group we already know fairly well—to less-involved consumers of aftermarket products. The goal is to help SEMA-member businesses better understand buyers’ motivations and needs when selecting specialty equipment and to develop a new way of classifying and speaking about the different types of aftermarket consumers.

To get the job done, we plan to partner with outside firms that offer high levels of specialized expertise. They will range from very large, generalized companies that have a lot of resources to small companies that are very specialized within the automotive market. (These partnerships, as a side benefit, will allow us to tap into syndicated studies that touch on information that our members may not otherwise find.)

Another upgrade will be to look more closely at data from the SEMA Show, which should tell us more about industry trends and the direction of the market, segment by segment.

The end result will be to capture an even broader view of the specialty-equipment marketplace and render it in 3-D across a big screen. As SEMA members, you’ll have the best seat in the house.

Adding these new approaches to our existing research efforts requires a significant commitment of resources. We’re convinced that unique and well-grounded market research is a worthy investment and an appropriate application of association resources. So expect to hear more in the coming year about new data, new sources and new approaches to allow you to better connect with your customers.

—Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO

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