SEMA Market Research
More Than Supplying Free State-of-the-Industry Data
By Chad Simon
While the SEMA Market Research department is widely recognized for its annual “SEMA Market Report,” other lesser-known services it offers include consulting to help members understand what data is available to them—even beyond what is provided directly in its reports—and their potential business opportunities based on that data.
“We will often work with members who are looking for a specific type of information to find it either within what we provide or via outside collaboration with vendors,” said Gavin Knapp, SEMA director of Market Research.
Additional Reports Available
SEMA Market Research releases a variety of reports throughout the year. The biannual “SEMA State of the Industry Report” discusses where the industry is in terms of business results. Companies within the automotive specialty-equipment industry are surveyed to find out how business is going and where they see it headed in the future.
New research for this year includes the “Vehicle Landscape Report,” which details information about the different types of vehicles currently on the road, how that pattern changes over time, and how it connects to the specialty-equipment market. The “SEMA Light Truck Snapshot” digs in on the light-truck market and how it is expanding and changing, particularly as SUV sales continue to grow. “Classic Vehicle Report—Classic Cars, Modern Markets” focuses on how classic-car owners accessorize their vehicles and how they use them.
The monthly “SEMA Industry Indicators” report offers a snapshot of the industry and helps guide some of SEMA Market Research’s more extensive research. In January 2022, the next “SEMA Future Trends” report—an annual that explores what is expected to happen in the near- and potentially long-term future—will be released.
Knapp said that he has received much positive feedback about helping the industry understand the changing dynamics among vehicles on the road—specifically for the “Vehicle Landscape Report” and the “SEMA Light Truck Snapshot.”
“OEMs are selling fewer traditional cars [sedans and coupes], but many people were surprised to see the extent of it,” Knapp said. “Ninety-percent of the Big 3 Detroit automakers’ sales fall into the light-truck category. That includes not only pickups but also SUVs, CUVs and vans, so it really is a huge shift in the OEMs’ business model and also for our industry, because the vehicle platforms are going to be very different with less sedan-type vehicles available.”
Filling a Void
In determining what segment of the industry to shine a spotlight on, SEMA Market Research uses a variety of inputs from membership and SEMA’s councils and networks. Knapp and his team personally speak to members directly and ask them what topics they’re interested in finding more information about.
“That’s really what drives the selection as we determine the hot spots for emerging areas within our industry,” Knapp said. “Then we look at where have we not done a report that matches up with that.”
SEMA Market Research’s latest report, released in early September, dives into vehicle electrification. It highlights not only alternative fuels and pure electrics but also the technology found inside the vehicle, including advanced driver-assistance systems.
“We’re providing a better vision of where the market is right now with this idea that essentially cars are becoming rolling computers,” Knapp said.
One of the big takeaways that SEMA Market Research published this year was the effect COVID-19 had on the industry in relation to shutdowns.
“We’ve put out a lot of information over time that shows how the industry has changed and adapted,” Knapp said. “While there was certainly disruption in 2020, the industry actually came out of that with overall growth. We might not have expected this last April in the midst of the shutdown, but we ultimately found that consumers have taken up the call to fix up their cars even while they’re driving less.”
SEMA Member VIO: Finding Opportunity
Through a partnership with Experian Automotive, SEMA Member VIO (vehicles in operation) provides information regarding how many vehicles are currently registered for the road. That type of data—available for free to SEMA members—is useful for those who are considering making a product for a certain type of vehicle.
“Let’s say a company currently makes products for Camaros, and they want to know if there’s enough opportunity to make the same product for Mustangs,” Knapp said. “If they’re looking for a certain generation, like the Fox-body Mustangs, we can tell them how many are currently on the road.”
This information can also be specifically broken down to sales figures by make and model or even the number of Mustangs out there with 5.0L V8 engines. It can also work for retailers in deciding what kinds of products they should stock based on the types of vehicles they want to support. By using this data, businesses can measure their opportunities and determine their potential uptake depending on how many vehicles on the road match their product portfolio.
SEMA Market Research also helps companies understand their opportunities
“We can tell them what the vehicle landscape looks like in an area they’re interested in,” Knapp said. “If they’re looking to expand their sales footprint or territory, we can help them find where there might be opportunities.”
How to Access SEMA Market Research Reports
All SEMA Market Research reports—including SEMA Member VIO—are available for free to members by visiting www.sema.org/research. Contact information is also listed on the website.
Additionally, SEMA Market Research is currently hosting an ongoing monthly webinar series, which can be found on the SEMA Virtual Education page at www.sema.org/virtual-education.
Knapp and his team also host multiple education sessions on the SEMA Show floor, and attendees are more than welcome to stop by, set up a meeting and learn more about what SEMA Market Research has to offer.
“We are here as consultants; it’s part of the service that we provide,” Knapp said. “If you are looking for specific information, or if you have questions about something that you’ve read in one of our reports, we encourage you to email or call us and let us help.”