Trendcasting: An Eye Toward the Future

SEMA News—June 2018

Trendcasting: An Eye Toward the Future

Chris Kersting

Chris Kersting

Over the years, SEMA has played a role helping our members see upcoming opportunities—and challenges—by looking at prior-year industry sales data. To that end, the association provides a research department that publishes studies documenting both industry growth and recession and establishing data about the size of the various markets that make up our large and extremely varied specialty products industry.

For example, documenting past market trends and activity can be useful if a small business is applying for a loan to expand operations. But forward-looking research—the kind that might predict and define trends as they take shape—is another practical management tool, and much tougher to produce. It requires identifying and monitoring key economic indicators that are not necessarily tied to the automotive sector, along with an understanding of how those factors relate to our marketplace.

The newly launched “SEMA Industry Indicators Report” is a monthly data report that houses a collection of economic indicators that we think should be relevant to SEMA members. Since no single measure will tell the story of the economy, the “SEMA Industry Indicators Report” is a monthly summary of key data, all in one place, plus a brief, easy-to-understand summary.

Now in its third month, the report can be accessed on www.sema.org/research.

This new report is the result of a collaboration with Astra Insights, a company that specializes in trendcasting and helping businesses understand how economic and technological shifts affect businesses.

The report currently looks at overall economic growth, consumer sentiment, consumer spending, the strength of the U.S. dollar, production of auto parts, vehicle sales, housing starts, plus indicators such as the price of gasoline and vehicle miles traveled. That combination of macro-economic indicators and industry-focused metrics provides our members the advantage of seeing the big picture without having to dig out a dozen different reports and attempting to connect the dots on their own.

Over time, we’ll adjust what metrics we show, add other metrics, and begin tracking and building predictive correlations. More immediately, we plan to add twice yearly a “SEMA Future Trends” report that will expand on the “SEMA Industry Indicators Report” and provide expert commentary on key topics that may affect the industry over the next few years.

These reports will be highlighted here in SEMA News magazine, but because they reflect faster-moving data, look for them first in SEMA eNews, which will provide a link to a download.

It’s important to note that this information is available to anyone in the industry, not just SEMA members. Business owners, media or other interested parties are welcome to view and download the “SEMA Industry Indicators Report.” Just tell us who you are, and it’s yours!

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