LAS VEGAS — I didn't see any psychologists and their couches anywhere on the exhibition floors for the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Assn. show of auto accessories and aftermarket products here.
But so much of the auto extravaganza is tied to psychographics, which for marketers represents a deeper level than demographics that sorts consumers by factors such as age, sex, income and marital status.
Psychographics tries to get into consumers' minds, exploring behavior traits such as hobbies, habits and lifestyle. Getting into the head of the consumer is a big part of the SEMA show and the aftermarket industry, which go way beyond merely fulfilling basic transportation needs.
The SEMA show is about consumer wants; the desire to customize cars into individualistic statements of personality and the quest to enhance vehicle performance.
Take the south hall. It is all about trucks, SUVs, wheels and the spirit of off roading. The central hall is dedicated to racing and performance. The north hall covers car care, accessories, electronics and restyling.
Psychographics and lifestyle marketing are what this 40-year-old show is all about.
Is one part of the show better for a shop owner or a dealership parts, service or general manager to spend their time? It depends on the psychographics of their customers.
For instance, at one end of the show hall is Joe Johnson of Joe's Dirt and Off-Road shop in El Paso, TX.
He's in the south hall eyeing all the off-road equipment, gadgets, tires, wheels and accessories. That's what his truck-loving customers are interested in.
He runs a truck outfitter company specializing in lift kits, tires, bed liners and the like. He's at the show to get a competitive edge on new products that competitors haven't seen yet.
Then there is Tony Ng from Palisades, CA. He tweaks and modifies Mitsubishi, Nissans and Hondas.
Ng makes his way through the aisles of the north hall inspecting all the new electronica for today's new tuners.
The psychographic profile for his customers is all about show, appearance and sound systems. So he's checking out the latest there, such as systems combining CD players, iPod adaptors and GPS/navigations all in one.
Because this show is about cutting edge, he's also checking out the Visualogic media-on-demand V-Mod (rated by a SEMA committee as one of the best new electronics products).
This little gem seamlessly synchronizes all the multi-media that could be installed in today's car or truck. Thinking of his customers' tastes and wants, Ng is drawn to this.
The SEMA show attracts an array of attendees, who, in turn, represent an array of consumers. There is a vast demographic and psychographic profile for the likes of parts-shop owners, speed-shop re-builders, jobbers, warehouse direct distributors, customizers, electronics installers, body shop painters, truck outfitters and personnel from dealerships trying to capture a piece of the $34 billion a year aftermarket business.
Whether you are a dealership principal, general manager, parts manager, service manager or body shop manager, you'll get an eyeful — and a mindful of the latest products that customers may want to enhancement and customize that very personal possession that is so much a part of their identities: their vehicles.