Dealership accessory sales improve in 2010

Feb 15, 2011

A new Accessories Trend Report, released in mid-February at NADA 2011 by izmocars’ AOA, reveals that accessories sales generated significant profits for dealerships across the country in 2010, driven by consumer interest in electronics add-ons, and a desire to balance style with economy.

The report, which analyzed sales from a sampling of 140 dealerships — all of whom increased accessory sales by nearly $500 per-vehicle-sold in 2010 — also showed the top-selling accessories categories vary significantly by region.

“This report clearly indicates that dealership accessory sales and profits have evolved well beyond just floor mats,” said izmocars’ Mike Martinez. “Even in last year’s challenging economy, profit drivers such as factory exterior items (providing a touch of style at a manageable price), electronics and old reliables like step bars and upholstery, sold extremely well at dealerships across the country. Given the results in this study, we believe that, with the right tools, U.S. auto dealership share of the accessories market could nearly double in the year ahead.”

Auto accessories represent a $28 billion market, but one that, until recently, has remained elusive for franchised dealerships, whose share of the market dropped from 10.9% in 1999, to 5.3% in 2009.

The dealerships studied in the AOA Accessories Trend Report represent 13 brands and 5 regions across 30 states. They sold $20 million in accessories in 2010, with average gross margins of 45% and average net profit margins of 28%.

Top 10 accessory categories in 2010

Upholstery was No. 1 overall in 2010 in terms of sheer retail sales dollars and dealer profits. However, in terms of volume of parts sold, the 2010 consumer put a lot of emphasis on style and a little on utility, with a strong preference for add-ons with wallet-friendly price points (that drive big dealer profit numbers through sheer volume and ease-of-sale). Technology is also a powerful chapter in the 2010 accessories story, with electronics, particularly remote entry systems, performing especially well.

The Top 10 accessory categories in retail sales for 2010 (in order from No. 1 to No. 10): upholstery; electronics; step bars; wheels; navigation; body side moldings; factory exterior; video; window tint; hitch and accessories.

The Top 5 accessory categories by region:

Accessory sales vary significantly by region, with climate apparently having a big impact. “Electronics” is the dominant volume leader in both the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, while ranking No. 2 in the Midwest. A closer look at the Electronics category reveals why: Electronics’ top-sellers are almost exclusively iterations of remote starters, attractive to consumers living in cold climates. “Window tint” ranks No. 1 in the sunny South, and “step bars” rank in the Top 5 everywhere except the South. Overall, ‘Factory Exterior’ is a consistent big seller (ranking No. 1 or No. 2) across all regions, while “body side moldings: spread the wealth everywhere except the Mid-Atlantic.

The Top 5 accessory categories by region (in order):

Mid-Atlantic: electronics; factory exterior; hitch and accessories; floor mats

Midwest: factory exterior; electronics; floor mats; body side moldings; factory interior

Northeast: electronics; factory exterior; body side moldings; floor mats; step bars

South: window tint; factory exterior; factory interior; body side moldings; floor mats

West: factory exterior; floor mats; body side moldings; factory interior; step bars

America’s best-dressed models/ makes

Among the dealers studied, Toyota and Honda represented the top two brands for both overall accessories revenue and profits-per-sale, with import siblings Lexus and Scion also making a strong showing, and Ford rounding out the top five. And when analyzing the most-accessorized model within these top brands (in terms of overall accessories sales), the results are surprising to industry insiders as the top five models are dominated not by trucks, but cars.

The Top 5 most accessorized brands, from No. 1 to No. 5: Toyota Camry; Honda CR-V; Lexus RX; Scion tc; Ford Fusion.