SEMA eNews Vol. 12, No. 13, April 2, 2009

Enthusiasts Prefer Quality Over Name Brand, Selection

Above all other products attributes, enthusiasts overwhelmingly prefer quality.

SEMA research has undertaken a study to determine what matters most to enthusiasts. In recent surveys, consumers were given the opportunity to weigh in on the features they prefer from manufacturers. In two different scenarios—one in which the characteristics of the products were listed and another when the question was left open for respondents to fill in—the results ended the same. In both cases, quality was more important than name brand, performance and even price.

The following table lists the results from the prompted question where enthusiasts were given a list of product attributes to rank. The results have been split by age group, and for the most part, the differences between this demographic profile are insignificant. The group with the largest variance is the 16–27 age block where they placed slightly more extreme values on return policy, warranty, quality and price than the others.

The oldest and most established group—64 years old and higher—places the least amount of emphasis on price and brand name.


Regardless of age, quality is the most important attribute enthusiasts care about.

In a subsequent survey, enthusiasts were given the same question without a list of characteristics to choose from. In other words, they were in complete control to enter the values they appreciate the most. These responses varied widely and were processed using common key words.

For example, “Made in the United States” and “American-made” translate to nearly the same meaning and were entered into “Manufacturing Origin” for this table.

As in the scenario before, hobbyists enthusiastically entered quality as their leading feature followed by price and performance. The results from more than 1,000 respondents were tabulated and listed below.


Even when left without prompts, enthusiasts still chose product quality as the leading feature.

As manufacturers and retailers begin building business models and developing new products, one of the first steps should be to understand what consumers want. Both methods were employed to decrease the chance of survey error and should be viewed in tandem. — SEMA Research & Information Center

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