This is due to a combination of favorable circumstances for shock absorbers, struts, coil springs and strut mounts in the standard replacement aftermarket, as well as increased consumer participation in the performance aftermarket.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (automotive.frost.com), Strategic Analysis of the North American Light Vehicle Ride Control Aftermarket, finds that in the light vehicle aftermarket segments, ride control products expect to grow slightly in the immediate future, with a stabilization of unit shipment and revenues across the forecast period of 2009-2016. Revenues and unit shipment drive primarily by standard replacement shock absorber and strut sales.
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"The light vehicle ride control aftermarket expects to see a period of growth stability through 2016, due to an increase in consumer maintenance spending and performance of deferred maintenance jobs," says Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Matthew Scruggs. "Another contributing factor is an increase in average vehicle age."
Increased spending expects to drive the purchase of premium replacement parts, as consumers invest in maintained quality components instead of traded in components. This will drive up the average price of replacement parts.
While entry-level parts will remain the largest revenue-generating category, consumers expect to target entry-level products with a high degree of differentiation, even if these products also carry a modest price premium.
A key restraint in this category continues to be a lack of consumer maintenance. Underperformed ride control maintenance acts to concentrate and commoditize the market mainly due to low margins created by inter-manufacturer price competition. This, in turn, challenges all industry participants, including distributors and installers.
"The potential for market expansion depends greatly on a company's ability to avoid commoditization of its products and remain price-competitive with competing manufacturers," observes Scruggs. "Product innovation and strategic product placement will be very significant factors for success in this market."
Going forward, manufacturers in the light vehicle ride control aftermarket should invest in installer and consumer education and develop products that compete on features and functionality basis. Differentiation in terms of product applications and technology is critical to avoid growth limitations due to eventual market stagnation.
"Manufacturers should understand that consumers are interested in keeping and maintaining their current vehicles," states Scruggs. "Thus, market share leaders must identify opportunities to drive the sales of premium products by competing in terms of quality per dollar."
Strategic Analysis of the North American Light Vehicle Ride Control Aftermarket is part of the Automotive & Transportation Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: An Evaluation of Key North American Automotive Repair Industry Metrics in 2010, Executive Analysis of Global Emission Regulations and Impact on Powertrain Technologies and Strategic Analysis of the North American Starters and Alternators Aftermarket. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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Strategic Analysis of the North American Light Vehicle Ride Control Aftermarket / N732.