A Study of 12 Volt Shops by the CTA

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Discount Auto Sound

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), set out to find the “pain points” in purchasing aftermarket car audio products. They wanted to learn what stops consumers from buying?

We know that many of the 12 volt aftermarket products are desired–27 percent want a backup camera and 17 percent want a remote starter (that’s a strong figure considering only parts of the US are cold enough for remote start, said the CTA).

Consumers want navigation, safety products, and they want good sound.  Twenty-eight percent want in-dash navigation.  As much as 44 percent of parents want backseat entertainment.

But here are the pain points:

Awareness–Only 15 percent of consumers know you can get blind spot monitoring or lane watch in the aftermarket.

Consumers believe the most trusted source for installation of these products is a car dealership rather than a car audio shop.

Only 10 percent of consumers are likely to purchase technology for their car at a local car stereo shop.

CTA 12 Volt Shop Chart

Also, many consumers don’t know that you can get something like blind spot monitoring at an aftermarket shop.

CTA Senior Director of Market Research Steve Koenig said, “So the channel needs to do more to show that their installers have expertise in more than just speakers and radios and that they are experts at technologies both inside and outside the vehicle.”

He added that he sees lots of opportunities for the aftermarket in this data. “People are looking at these safety systems and there’s budding interest. We still need to grow awareness, but these things take time.”

The study also looked at what makes consumers shop at a 12 volt store.  It found that installation expertise was almost equally important as price. Eighty-six percent of consumers decide on a 12 volt shop based on competitive price and 83 percent decide based on the expertise or skill of the installer. Seventy-nine percent decide based on warranties offered.

The study performed earlier this year, also shows that word of mouth is crucial to store traffic as 67 percent of women and 54 percent of men decide on a car stereo shop based on recommendations from family and friends.

Source: CTA


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  1. Kevin, NICE TRY, BUT I assure you that the survey asked several questions of the respondents and their responses were not is “this OR that” it was rather “do you think” therefore each the survey is measured by which percentage respondents indicate which question is important. Sometimes it makes sense to investigate prior to complaining…

  2. Another issue here is that manufacturers are leaving it all in the hands of the retailer to figure a lot of these items out and not offering good support when it comes to proper installation and troubleshooting of their products. I know we have never had a single sales or manufacturer rep come in our store and explain anything. Some come in and want us to buy and stock lots of inventory and even offer some low rate display with their name all over it, but when it comes to the technical side of it, they leave us hanging. Also, so many of these after market devices look like after market devices. Every blind spot system we have brought in looked like an add on piece. The indicators are cheesy and unappealing. Now, here is the problem with that statement. If the manufacturers make them look more OEM then up goes the price and then we have a different problem. We have to keep a happy medium when it comes to price and appearance of these items without degrading quality. I agree that shops should get behind MECP to help validate their skills and knowledge, but the manufacturers need to as well otherwise it just looks like a gimmick.

    1. Good point about training… BUT you are now obligated to follow through on your lament/request. Use your considerable clout and influence as a customer to demand that your suppliers do more than just demand purchase orders from you, tie the purchase order to a training. If you do not have enough clout/influence by yourself, get your peers to join with you. Get your reps to go to work for you. Get your distributors to go to work for you. Get your buying group to go to work for you. If you need help in these areas (no charge) gimme a call 949-228-2153. I will be glad to assist a worthy brick & mortar installing specialty retailer!.

      Ray Windsor

  3. I just wanted to say what Ray and Barry has to say is invaluable… Barry states trust is #1 and I say on the flip side that Fear is the #1 Killer of all sales. Ray points out about going to see how the MBZ, BMW etc and check out how they do business. I say, not only watch how they do it but also look at their facility too. There is no second chance on making a good first impression (PERIOD). If you would like to know how I helped just ok shops get better or the best of the best get better. Let me know.

  4. I echo everything that Ray Windsor says. Read his response again! What is striking is that these trends have been happening for many years now. The most critical factor overall is trust. A vehicle is the 2nd biggest investment most consumers will make. And they do not trust aftermarket dealers to work on their vehicles. The unfortunate truth is that all too often their fears are justified. Trust is #1. Until a consumer can easily, and quickly find people they can trust and a way to weed out the unskilled “trunk slammers”, this trend will never improve. And the professionals will continue to pay the price for unprofessional dealers who screw up consumer vehicles.

  5. I think that someone at the CTA needs to improve their math skills….

    Percentages quoted of 86 and 83 = 169

    That’s impossible!

  6. Everybody should read this article three times and then save it for later reference. It is true that any survey can be crafted to deliver desired results. That said there are 5 critical points the article makes that are fairly inexpensive for a retailer to attack/improve…

    ONE: AWARENESS… Collect consumer e-mail address and send a quarterly AWARENESS MISSIVE. DON’T overtly try to SELL. Rather inform the reader and suggest he tell his friends.

    TWO: TRUST… It is true that most consumers trust the car dealer more than the aftermarket brick & mortar installer. Wanna know why…? Spend three hours sitting the local car dealer’s service center. Preferably MBZ, BMW, Volvo, or higher end American brand.

    THREE: WORD of MOUTH… If your staff is not telling EVERY customer EVERY TIME to tell their friends, make that a policy which if violated is a firing offense. After all look how influential word of mouth is and how much it means to your tomorrow…

    FOUR: WARRANTY… We have all heard it the OE guys threaten our consumers about who is authorized to work on their car. Potential solution to the consumer concern; while you are sitting around the car dealer service center, obtain a copy of their warranty and count the words. Create a sign that is very easy for the consumer to see and read: OUR 4 WORD COMPREHENSIVE WARRANTY: WE MAKE YOU HAPPY”.

    FIVE: COMPETENCE… Show ’em your MECP certifications. Show ’em your certified training certificates. Show ’em your happy customer letters. Have these all on a bragging wall near the 4 word warranty sign. (If you don’t have these documents GET SOME !!!)

    Still confused… Call me 949-228-2153 and I’ll get you some help.

    Ray Windsor

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