As the globalization of automotive manufacturing has accelerated in recent decades and U.S.-spec vehicles are now being manufactured and distributed via worldwide supply chains, a side effect has been the emergence of an increasingly affluent consumer class in much of the developing world. This, in turn, presents tremendous growth opportunities for American manufacturers offering goods and services that cater to this rapidly expanding market segment.
A contingent of 29 leading global journalists, tapped as members of the Global Media Awards (GMA) panel, was charged at the 2016 SEMA Show with selecting products from the New Products Showcase that would resonate best with consumers back home. The diverse group—journalists from 18 countries and covering niches from off-road to street performance, vehicle restoration and motorsports—made their selections on the opening day of the Show after reviewing more than 3,000 products in 16 categories.
Qian Guohui bought his first Jeep—a Compass—in 2010. The model choice was dictated by his wife’s tastes. But Guohui hankered after a tougher-looking Jeep, and he wanted to go off-road. In 2014, with his wife’s blessing, he bought a Jeep Wrangler.
One in five people in the world reside in just one country: China. A delegation of SEMA-member manufacturers recently traveled to this nation of 1.4 billion people to check out the automotive specialty-equipment market firsthand. During the four-day program, a dozen manufacturers met with pre-vetted buyers, toured top off-road and performance shops and were briefed by U.S. government officials based both in China and at the U.S. Department of Commerce headquarters. The delegation was struck by how the market, while clearly in its early years, has developed such a passionate enthusiast base with such strong potential.
Australia has a vibrant modified-car culture comprising three broad groups: pre-’49 street rods; post-’48 street machines, customs and musclecars up to the late ’70s; and later-model vehicles. The distinctions are important. Generally, the older the car, the more modifications are allowed. The culture is similar to that found in the United States, although the range and extent of modifications permitted is much more regulated and limited. And, of course, Australians drive on the other side of the road!
Tens of thousands of international buyers will be walking the 2016 SEMA Show looking for new products to export to their home markets. How do you, as an exhibitor, connect with these buyers who come to Las Vegas from Australia, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and more than 130 countries? They likely have just a few minutes to stop at any one booth, so how do you grab their attention and maintain their interest in order to introduce yourself and your product, scan their badges or collect their business cards? Here are some tips about how to attract buyers to your booth and what you can do even before the Show begins.
In late May, 20 SEMA-member companies ventured to Melbourne, Australia, for the inaugural SEMA Australia Business Development Program. This latest target market for the SEMA overseas development program joined similar programs in China, Russia and the Middle East.
The new Ford Raptor, built in Dearborn, Michigan, will be sold in China beginning next year, according to Ford officials. The Raptor will be the first pickup to be officially sold in China by any overseas manufacturer. Unveiled at the April 2016 Beijing Auto Show, the officially imported Raptor will go on sale in the United States later this year and in China in 2017. Ford will introduce only one model to that market initially—a four-door Supercrew with a turbocharged 3.5L V6 engine.
Nearly 40 SEMA-member companies traveled together to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of the fifth SEMA Middle East Business Development Program. The companies included manufacturers of engine performance, suspension, interior and exterior products and those whose products are used for racing, street performance and off-roading as well as for classic cars, restoration and hot rods. The group was in the Middle East learning about the local specialty-equipment market firsthand, tazweed-style (Arabic for customization).
Participating in SEMA’s international trips has helped SEMA members open new markets and grow business in existing markets. But participants have also learned that preparation and follow-up are key to getting the most out of the investment.