The Sporting Life

Jun 10, 2011

Over the past couple of years sport compacts have become an established part of the performance aftermarket.

Gone are the high wings, wild graphics and big bling that marked the early years, replaced by serious enthusiasts interested in time attack, drifting, drag racing and other forms of motorsports competition.

Fueled by technology and promoted through social media, sport compacts appeal to a new breed of performance enthusiast that is pushing past traditional boundaries. Max power and efficiency mark successful upgrades to this next generation of speed seekers.

Shops looking to make the most from the sport compact crowd can review the following answers from industry suppliers regarding the state of the market and ways to connect with this exciting segment.

GARRETT BY HONEYWELL
Torrance, Calif.
Kyle Snyder
Marketing Manager

Our hottest product for the sport compact market is…

…our new line of Garrett GTX Turbochargers. They have been immensely popular since they provide 10- to 20-percent more power from the same size turbo.

Its best features include…

…the all-new aerodynamics of the GTX compressor wheel. The new aero allows for more power to be made from the same size turbo. This means that kit manufacturers and enthusiasts don’t need to fabricate new manifolds and downpipes to squeeze out more power.

The main factor currently driving the sport compact market is…

…the hardcore enthusiasts. It really is the people who have stuck with the market through the down economic times who are setting the pace now.

The down economy sifted out a lot of the people who were in it only as a trend and has left those who are really committed to pulling the most performance from their car. The real gearheads have brought it back to a grassroots level from the national spotlight that the sport compact market once held.

There are still events held every weekend, but most are local or regional now and provide a sense of community more similar to how everything started.

Technology is having an influence on the sport compact market by…

…the sport compact market has always embraced new technology! From Internet forums to standalone ECUs to new hardware components, the sport compact market is very willing to try out new tech and will quickly report on it.

For the most part, the sport compact market is younger than most other markets. They’ve grown up with computers, smartphones, the Internet and OBDII. They are not only comfortable working with new technology, but thrive on improving it.

The biggest challenge for speed shops selling to the sport compact market is…

…selling against the Internet. Anyone can carry a part, and the Internet is likely going to be cheaper than your local speed shop. Shops need to be sure that they are providing value to their customers, whether as a trusted source of information, installation and testing services or any one of a hundred other ways.

The bottom line is that speed shops need to be able to provide more than just a piece of hardware-they need to provide solutions to customer problems.

Shops can immediately start making more money in the sport compact market by…

…getting involved. Find a type of motorsport that you want to be involved with and get to a track. Whether it is putting a car out to compete or just getting to know the teams in the pits, speed shops can benefit from establishing relationships and getting face time.

The sport compact market is fairly resistant to normal media messages, so making a personal connection, offering solutions and providing value can really help to bring business through the doors.

HOLLEY PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS
Bowling Green, Ky.
Liz Miles 
Marketing Representative

Our hottest product for the sport compact market is…

…our NOS kits and accessories and Earl’s Plumbing components

Its best features include…

…high-flow design and quality production in the U.S., with the most current technology incorporated into the design and manufacturing.

The main factor currently driving the sport compact market is…

…performance! All the bling is dead and what is left is people serious about performance.

Technology is having an influence on the sport compact market by…

…LS V-8 engines finding their way into more and more sport compact cars. (Drivers) have noticed the power potential, durability and low cost.

Our EFI just powered Matt Powers to a second-place finish in Formula D Long Beach.

The biggest challenge for speed shops selling to the sport compact market is…

…having enough sport compact representation in their area to support having inventory.

Shops can immediately start making more money in the sport compact market by…

…understanding who is in their area and catering to them-drifting, drag racers, street performance, etc.

JE PISTONS
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Sean Crawford
Marketing Manager

Our hottest product for the sport compact market is…

…in 2011, JE Pistons released unique off-the-shelf asymmetrical pistons. We created a larger piston skirt on one side to properly handle the side loads associated with high cylinder pressures, while reducing the skirt size on the “minor thrust side” to reduce friction where a large skirt isn’t necessary.

Overall, the pistons are lighter, stronger and provide less friction than other designs. The asymmetrical pistons are currently available only for turbocharged sport compact applications.

Its best features include…

…the asymmetrical skirt, which offers less friction, lighter overall weight and a high-strength design.

The main factor currently driving the sport compact market is…

…money and technology. With the economy being softer than previous years, many people in the sport compact market are looking for more affordable vehicles to modify. Many Honda vehicles, such as the S2000, are very affordable and provide a lot of performance for the dollar.

On the technology side, new vehicles such as the Nissan GT-R are raising the bar for performance standards. The latest version accelerates the relatively heavy car from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds.

Technology is having an influence on the sport compact market by…

…allowing smaller engines to make more horsepower reliably. Many new engines have small displacement and are turbocharged. This trend will continue as fuel economy targets increase and will promote more technically advanced features such as direct injection.

The components used on today’s engines and electronics are far superior to a decade ago.

The biggest challenge for speed shops selling to the sport compact market is…

…creating a sustainable value proposition is the biggest challenge for small shops. Many consumers purchase products by price alone and will source parts online.

If shops want to compete with the Internet retailers, they must provide some form of benefit to the end-user to attract their business. Holding inventory, providing technical expertise or installation are all actions that can help their business overall.

Think of it as Amazon vs. Borders. Try to leverage what a local business can do that an Internet retailer cannot.

Shops can immediately start making more money in the sport compact market by…

…selling JE Pistons!

INNOVATE MOTORSPORTS
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Cort Charles
Sales Manager

Our hottest product for the sport compact market is…

…the new Digital MTX air/fuel ratio gauge.

Its best features include…

…the fast-responding air/fuel ratio gauge features a sealed gauge design that protects critical electronics from dust, dirt, water, ice, mud, etc. An internal wideband controller simplifies wiring-simply plug the O2 sensor directly into the gauge.

Also, interchangeable faceplates and bezels offer a customized appearance.

Technology is having an influence on the sport compact market by…

…accurate, high-quality electronics are now available at an affordable cost. You no longer have an excuse to not monitor critical engine data such as air/fuel ratio.

By having better technology, tuners can now produce more horsepower without sacrificing reliability.

CENTRIC PARTS
Industry, Calif.
Frank Filipponio
Director of Communications

Our hottest product for the sport compact market is…

…StopTech Street Performance pads.

Its best features include…

…an excellent combination of low noise and dust issues with high-performance capabilities at a reasonable cost.

The main factor currently driving the sport compact market is…

…the same factor that is impacting the whole industry: the economy. The challenge is meeting a certain price point while still offering some level of sporting potential.

Technology is having an influence on the sport compact market by…

…improving performance at a set price. Smaller-displacement turbo engines are more prevalent and can meet stricter emissions laws, for example.

The biggest challenge for speed shops selling to the sport compact market is…

…price. With eBay and third-party resellers drop-shipping parts from home offices with very low margins, installs become the main source of income on general parts sales.

Shops can immediately start making more money in the sport compact market by…

…upselling and broadening their range of products and services to capture additional customers who may have more disposable income.

K&N ENGINEERING
Riverside, Calif.
Lucio Tapia
Marketing & Project Vehicles

Our hottest product for the sport compact market is…

…our K&N Typhoon intake system product line, which was established a few years ago when the sport compact market was growing at a rapid pace. We wanted to create a line of intakes that would appeal to this niche market.

Its best features include…

…our Typhoon intake systems are different than our conventional intake systems due to the choices available. Depending on the application, we may offer a cold-air version that routes the intake tube and air filter behind the front bumper or a short ram version that keeps the system in its stock location.

Most sport compact applications also have several choices of color of the intake tube.

The best selling point is that we guarantee our intake systems will gain horsepower over a stock intake system. We publish estimated horsepower gains right on our website for most part numbers.

Also, our Typhoon intake systems really improve the engine sound, which is really popular with the sport compact customers. Additional features include a washable and reusable conical air filter.

The main factor currently driving the sport compact market is…

…sport compact vehicles are, for the most part, very affordable and parts are widely available. We see a huge number of sport compact owners in the 16-24 age range.

Local meets, forums, blogs and enthusiast print magazines are all big reasons why the market is still going strong. There’s also drifting, time attack, and even drag racing that are strong.

However, it seems like the sport compact scene is in pockets, meaning there are regions that are much stronger than others. Here in Southern California, every night of the week there seems to be some sport compact event happening.

Technology is having an influence on the sport compact market by…

…smartphones and tablets are the new way to stay connected. These devices not only have an influence on the sport compact market, but our entire industry.

Shops and manufacturers have to stay up-to-date with the evolution of social media through these devices. We have added QR codes on our print ads, we have designed a website that is compatible with mobile phones and we have a social media campaign.

It’s no different for speed shops-they also need to adapt to the way their customer is looking for product info or a local shop that can work on their car.

The biggest challenge for speed shops selling to the sport compact market is…

…pricing. Speed shops need to be very competitive to keep up with the online retailers. Nowadays, it’s very easy to punch in a part number in Google and get various prices on parts. Shops need to be aware of that so they don’t price themselves out of a possible sale.

Shops can immediately start making more money in the sport compact market by…

…having the right product on the shelves, pricing competitively and being knowledgeable of the products they sell. Having an online presence is a must and making sure all the product info and applications are always up-to-date online.

Most manufacturers have marketing materials, point-of-purchase displays, product training or even Authorized Dealer programs. Shops should take advantage of all these programs.