Posted: November 14, 2013
New Trends And Areas For Growth
Bob West, VP at Westin, talks about the areas he sees potential for growth in our market.By Bob West, Westin VP Marketing
There was a lot of momentum coming out of 2102, and we expected 2013 to be stronger for our segment of the market. But when you look at the increase in new truck sales, we’re not experiencing the same percentage of growth. One reason is the OEMs always try to take food out of our mouths and add our industry’s products. In the last four years, the penetration rate of OEM accessories on trucks has doubled. Functional accessories like running boards and trailer hitches are now trim-level items on nearlyhalf the trucks. While that limits our opportunity to sell something, the other half is basically base models. People need a new vehicle, but they don’t have money to accessorize it immediately and add it to the financing like they used to.
So that opens it up for the retail market. Consumers have choices. They can go online to shop for low-end products or go to a local store. The guy on the internet is a price shopper. But many people are looking for customized service. So when a customer is in the showroom, the local retailer has the advantage of promoting product knowledge, and steering the customer to the right product.
One of the newest trends for additional growth is in the commercial industry. At Westin, we've got six new categories, including commercial-grade running boards and grille guards, a full ladder rack and overhead rack program, plus bed mats, truck boxes and bed caps. We’re also focusing on the CUV and SUV market. We just released a stylized running board designed, engineered and scaled to match the downsized crossovers and small SUVs. We also developed a new light bar that adds a styling touch to the front of the vehicle without being bulky.
For that same class of vehicles, we have a line of trailer hitches. The penetration rate is high on trucks, but most downsized SUVs don’t come with a hitch. But people still want to carry bikes or put a storage unit on the back. So we feel that market is going to be hot. The dynamics of the market have changed. We all do things differently from the way we did a few years ago. You’ve got to keep redefining yourself. To position ourselves against our competitors, we point out our differences and what makes us unique. Retailers and restylers have to do the same thing. You can’t just say you’ll match any price. You have to promote yourself as the expert. You’ve got to give customers a reason to walk into your store, and the value proposition