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The State of the Auto Aftermarket Industry: Reflections on the 2024 Vision Conference

The State of the Auto Aftermarket Industry: Reflections on the 2024 Vision Conference

The 2024 Vision Conference, hosted by MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers, was an assembly of innovative minds that left us intrigued and inspired. Beginning with an informative keynote by MEMA CEO Paul McCarthy, the event was an opportunity to reflect on the future of the auto aftermarket industry. We gleaned not only insights into the upcoming trends and challenges but also tips on how to stay ahead of the game. 

On our way home, we took some time to reflect on what we absorbed during the conference. From that came five primary observations and themes we heard throughout the various sessions. We wanted to share these takeaways with you, to spark further discussions and drive continued innovation in the automotive aftermarket sector. 

Takeaway #1: The auto aftermarket industry is a technology-first industry 

At its core, the auto aftermarket industry is a technology-first industry. Acceptance and investment in this belief will allow suppliers to take advantage of the substantial growth opportunities within the industry.   

This is exciting —Consumers are heavily relying on suppliers to steer and bring innovation to the aftermarket future. To rise to the task, suppliers need to optimize their solutions portfolios. This means bringing in tools that help manage the entire customer journey, like inventory management, data analytics, funds and incentives management, and customer relationship management.  

By adopting a holistic solution mindset, suppliers can work to ensure seamless and efficient workflows that satisfy customers and give leverage over competitors.  

Takeaway #2: Industry challenges should be seen as opportunities for innovation and collaboration 

In North America, only 19% of suppliers have met their sales goals due to regulation challenges. Supply chain risks are persistently present. The industry is continually becoming more globalized, increasing market competition and compliance complexity.  

Each hurdle, however, can be turned into a window of opportunity. Suppliers can do this by focusing on: 

  • Becoming invaluable through differentiated selling propositions and customer centricity. 
  • Becoming indispensable by possessing deep end-customer knowledge and demand-pull capabilities.  
  • Being structurally necessary, ensuring they have enough leverage to make business decisions that benefit them. 
Takeaway #3: Sustainability and affordability can coexist 

A potential upswing in vehicle reconditioning could revolutionize affordability, ushering in a more sustainable model that doesn't compromise on consumers' pockets. By not consigning older vehicles to landfills, we also address environmental concerns.  

Through forward-thinking, we can gain a competitive edge, lean into change swiftly, and anticipate shifts in the market. Riding the wave for greener and cost-effective alternatives is not just a nice-to-have, but an utmost necessity for the future that we envisage. 

Takeaway #4: Vehicle ownership and usage trends speak loudest 

1.6 billion - that's the number of vehicles operating globally. With such staggering numbers, the average cars per household, their lifespan, and the average miles driven are more than just figures to calculate - they offer valuable insights into consumer behavior.  

Interestingly, even amid economic oscillations, automotive products are the last items consumers consider dispensing with. This not only spells out the market's resilience but also points towards a stable demand, translating into a driving force that steers forward the market momentum. 

Takeaway #5: The champions of the industry have strength in training and recruitment processes  

Recruitment in the auto aftermarket industry is at an all-time high, putting pressure on companies to attract and retain top-tier talent.  

Two extremely key elements of this process are onboarding and training. Although they happen after recruitment, it is imperative to already have strong programs in place before you send out any offer letters. Whether in-person or virtual, your onboarding and training should be educational and gamified in a way that keeps participants engaged. Plus, incentivizing your onboarding and training processes is a great way to attract those who are entering the job market.  

Onboarding and training are how you can walk new hires through your solution set to show how you’re holistically catering to your customers. It also includes technical training. So, how you go about it will directly impact everything from customer support to counter clerk recommendations to how to maintain and stretch competency with modern vehicle requirements (including EVs). 

Pro tip: Standard vehicles and electric vehicles need their own unique training and recruitment programs.  

You’ve heard our thoughts, now we want to hear yours. What do you think about our reflections and what key things in the auto aftermarket industry are you keeping an eye on for the rest of 2024? Let us know.  

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