SEMA News—April 2014
By Steve Campbell
SEMA UTV Accessorization Survey
Preview of a New Report on the Side-by-Side Accessory Marketplace
Spurred by the growth in the number of utility task vehicles (UTVs) over the last decade, SEMA recently released a new report examining the size, types of accessories and accessory purchasing processes involved in this burgeoning powersports segment.
UTVs, also known as side-by-sides, evolved as an offshoot of the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) market. The earliest models were spawned by the need for greater cargo capacity for those who used three- and four-wheel cycles for work tasks on farms, job sites, golf courses and other areas where off-road performance was required but a fullsize pickup was unnecessary or too cumbersome. With the ability to carry two to four occupants as well as room for cargo, the side-by-side configuration gained almost immediate acceptance. And, as with virtually every type of vehicle, regardless of its genesis, sport versions and UTV competitions also sprang up almost immediately.
The “SEMA UTV Accessorization Survey” was developed through a 50-question online study conducted with owners of a variety of UTV models from nearly a dozen different brands. The nationwide sampling of ’10–’12 model vehicles was augmented with information from the 2012 North American UTV Sales Database provided by Power Products Marketing. The survey topics ranged from vehicle usage and accessorization to driver lifestyles and hobbies.
“The primary objective of this study is to provide members of SEMA with an understanding of the needs and purchase habits of UTV owners,” the survey says. “The results are intended to aid member companies in their marketing, sales and product development efforts.”
The survey reveals that approximately 670,000 UTV models were sold between 2010 and 2012, and the category can be divided into three types: Sports, Multipurpose and Utility. About 410,000 owners of those vehicles have either purchased or planned to purchase UTV accessories within the next 12 months. Accessorization rates are high in all three categories. While the Sports category is the smallest of the three with about a quarter of the total market share, nearly all of Sports owners either have accessorized or plan to accessorize their UTVs. The largest market share is held by the Multipurpose segment at 38%, and 85% of them have or plan to accessorize their vehicles. The third category, Utility UTVs, claims about a third of the market and about three-quarters of those vehicles tend to be accessorized by their owners.
The survey says that the highest geographical UTV volume is located in the southern states at 44% of sales during 2012, and Texas is the number-one state for UTV use. The Midwestern region comes in second with 27%, and Ohio ranks third in UTV use. The west claims 21% of sales volume, with California in the number-two slot nationally. The Northeast makes up the final 8% of sales volume.
As with other automotive market segments, UTV accessorization is influenced by the way the vehicles are used. Although the Sports category has the smallest segment share, its vehicle owners produced the highest average dollar amount in accessorization at $2,102 per vehicle. Sports UTV ownership was biased toward the West, and the top three activities included general enjoyment, trail driving and camping, with the vast majority of owners stating that they use their UTVs mainly for recreation. Even so, nearly three-quarters of the respondents also said that safety was a top priority in their modifications.
Owners in the Multipurpose segment also said that general enjoyment was the purpose for owning their UTVs but additionally listed general chores and property maintenance as priorities. Safety was their top modification concern, and they average $1,620 on UTV accessorization. Multipurpose UTV ownership is most popular in the Midwest and South but is widespread in all geographical regions.
Utility UTVs started the side-by-side phenomenon. Their use is also common throughout the country but is highest in the South, Midwest and Northeast, and the vehicles are often seen as tools rather than recreational vehicles. The owners of Utility UTVs listed general chores, general enjoyment and property maintenance as their top three uses, and the survey says that they average $1,550 in accessory purchases.
“The main attraction to UTVs appears to be versatility, which is reflected in owners’ accessory purchases,” the survey says. “The largest opportunity within the accessory market is in items that increase vehicle functionality.”
In fact, the survey shows that 94% of the upgrades UTV owners purchased were aimed at increasing functionality, with another 59% added to increase performance and 40% designed to improve appearance. The top purchases included hitch balls, tow hitch receivers, rearview mirrors, hardtop roofs and winch kits. Planned future purchases included winch kits, LED lights and light bars, all-terrain tires, heater fans and skid plates. The survey breaks out the product purchase percentages in detailed listings of 10 categories, such as cab/roof/windshield/mirror, towing/which/tools, safety/security/comfort and lighting/electronics.
The report also points out that UTV owners, like other enthusiasts, often select groups of accessories to accomplish their specific objectives. In this case, performance items might include an intake, a big-bore kit, a slip-on muffler and a full exhaust. Or a buyer might purchase seats, passenger grab handles, a steering wheel and a rollcage at one time. The survey shows these typical multiple-product purchases in five categories, including areas that touch on performance, safety, off-road utility, vehicle protection and comfort.
UTV owners tend to research their planned purchases through personal sources, including staff at UTV dealerships, friends and family as well as manufacturers’ websites and catalogs, the survey says. They buy most of their accessories within the first three months of UTV ownership, either pre-installed, added at the time the vehicle is purchased or after the vehicle purchase but within those first 90 days. Most purchases are made through a powersports dealer or directly from the OEM, but owners also buy from powersports supply shops, aftermarket manufacturers and online powersports equipment stores.
“Powersports dealers are clearly the best channel for delivering products to customers,” the survey says. “Additionally, partnerships with vehicle OEMs could prove highly valuable, as a good portion of customers purchase accessories directly.”
UTV owners also typically own a tow vehicle and trailer with which to transport a side-by-side. A pickup is the most commonly used, but SUVs and CUVs are also put into service. About 75% of UTV owners have an open trailer as their transportation method, while other methods include a truck bed, an enclosed trailer or a toy hauler-type RV. Even so, a full 27% don’t transport their UTVs, which says something about how their UTVs are used.
The survey found that 74% of UTV owners drive their side-by-sides at least monthly near their homes, and year-round use is common. Utility UTVs see the greatest drive time, with nearly all being used a minimum of weekly during at least one season of the year. In addition, UTV owners often have other powersports vehicles, most commonly ATVs and boats. The most common use across all UTV types is recreational riding (73%).
The full report also includes demographic information and additional data about specific products purchased by UTV owners, and its appendix features demographic information about their educational, income and personal activities.
The “SEMA UTV Accessorization Survey” is available now. It is a free download for SEMA members and may be purchased for $200 by non-members.
For more information about this and other SEMA research projects, contact Gavin Knapp, SEMA’s senior manager for market research, at firstname.lastname@example.org.