Each year for the last several years, SEMA has conducted an industry consumer study based on the subscribers to automotive enthusiast magazines. The following is a summary of key factors found by comparing trends in the data for the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Automotive Lifestyle Surveys. SEMA has been conducting these surveys on an annual basis in partnership with major automotive enthusiast magazine publishers.
The aging of performance parts and accessory buyers is a trend to watch. The data shows respondents who were age 40-51 grew from 17 percent of the total in 2005, to 20 percent in 2006, to 23 percent in 2007. Significantly more respondents were ages 59-65 than U.S. licensed drivers. The number of respondents who are retired has also increased significantly over the three years.
We did a snapshot profile of respondents based on the vehicle they owned from 2007 data. Owners of small and midsize cars were younger, had a lower household income and primarily some college education. Owners of sports cars were older with a higher household income and spent less on aftermarket parts and accessories. Pickup owners were heavier purchasers of parts and accessories than other vehicles and most had $95,000 or less household income. SUV owners were concentrated in the 31-48 age group, generally had higher than a $95,000 household income and spent less on aftermarket parts and accessories
"I Personalize/Modify my vehicle to increase performance" (i.e. go faster, etc.) was the most popular reason for purchasing a vehicle in the 2005, 2006 and 2007 surveys, and the percentage of consumers who gave that answer has increased across all three years, suggesting it has increased in importance. "I Personalize/Modify my vehicle to make it more efficient" (i.e. save gas, etc.) dropped from 2005 to 2007, however, these results may no longer be relevant until 2008 data is gathered in light of $4-plus per gallon gas.
When purchasing parts and accessories, quality, price and warranty remained the top three results across the 2005, 2006 and 2007 surveys, although the data suggests they have dropped in terms of importance across the three years.
There are significant differences in what channel consumers use to buy parts and accessories, especially when you separate out the consumers who purchase 1-50 percent of all parts through a channel from consumers who purchase 51 percent or more. For example, the under 24 age group was not the highest when it came to purchasing "any" parts from chain auto parts stores, they were third; however when you look at the age groups that purchase "51 percent or more" parts from that channel they were number one. There are interesting differences when you compare these results to the chart showing where consumers go for information; automotive magazines are the largest sources of information, yet magazine mail order is the eighth most popular channel.
Interestingly, 65.9 percent of total consumers who took the survey reported using the Internet to gather information, and 51.6 percent reported using the Internet to make a purchase.
For more original SEMA market research, please visit www.sema.org/research.