Research

2011 Opinion Leader Report

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The opinion leader program continued each succeeding year, including at the 2011 SEMA Show, where some of the nation’s most active and influential automotive enthusiasts provided additional firsthand feedback through participation in onsite focus groups that provided deeper insight into enthusiasts’ perspectives and attitudes about the automotive specialty-equipment industry. The information gathered during these focus groups, and a separate online session with another group recruited at random from the general population, has now been compiled in a new SEMA publication entitled 2011 Opinion Leader Report. It is available free to SEMA members. Non-members may also download the report for $200.

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The Changing Landscape of Mobile Electronics

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Other than powertrain components that have to coexist with vehicle on-board computers, mobile-electronics components can often be the most complex specialty-equipment accessories added to a vehicle. The key to success in this market is the ability to convince enthusiasts and consumers alike that they have to have these cool products on their vehicles.

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The Cool Necessities

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The specialty-equipment market is divided into nine niches. For each of these, there are three segments, one of which is the wheel, tire and suspension category. Overall, the wheel, tire and suspension category rose nearly 2% in retail sales and 3% in manufacturer sales from 2007 to 2008 (See Chart 1). Light truck is the niche in which wheels, tires and suspension represent the largest percentage at $1.29 billion in manufacturer sales (See Table 1).

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Racing and Performance Market

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The racing and performance component of the specialty-equipment market is comprised of three market niches: street performance, racing and compact performance. Combined, these three niches represent 32% of the total retail sales of the specialty-equipment market.

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Restoration Market Update

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In 2008, the restoration market held its ground and fended off economic troubles by sticking to its classic formulas. With the overall market shuddering in the wake of myriad disasters, enthusiasts looking to restore their automotive passion and collector cars came through decidedly.

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Mass Customization = Restyling

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It wasn’t all that long ago that the OEMs were trumpeting the concept of mass customization. The idea sounds great, particularly to consumers. After all, under mass customization, all vehicle buyers could get exactly what they want because essentially each vehicle would be built to order.

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Used-Vehicle Market Could Spell New Opportunity

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For the first quarter of the year, automotive industry analysts made pessimistic forecasts for new-vehicle sales volume for 2009. In February, J.D. Power and Associates predicted that total new-vehicle sales would reach a mere 10.4 million units—down 1 million units from the company’s forecast just a month prior and 6 million under the annual average during the past decade.

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SEMA Demand Index

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During these tough economic times, forecasting consumer spending helps to focus in on the road ahead. While not being a precise measure of future spending, the SEMA Performance Parts and Accessories Demand Index (PADI) provides marketing planners with a useful tool that estimates future specialty-equipment demand.

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