Automotive Aftermarket Market Research & Business Solutions

The automobile is central to the American story. We are a people of movement and change. The businesses of the automotive aftermarket and petroleum-marketing industries – integral to that vision of America – know all about change. The NPD Group is where those businesses turn when seeking to understand how American consumers’ buying patterns are shifting.

For more than a quarter century we’ve tracked buying trends; collected consumer data; polled drivers, mechanics, and DIYers; and crunched the numbers – all to support industry leaders in their strategic decision-making.

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Automotive
Products


Retail Tracking

Our Retail Tracking Service delivers unmatched point-of-sale information so you can understand market dynamics, partner with retailers, and identify growth opportunities. Like no other source, we provide a complete and accurate view of the automotive products market. Information is collected from our retail panel covering 80 percent of the total U.S. market, including 18 retailers from the mass and automotive specialty channels.


Weekly Retail Tracking

Now you can monitor product launches, promotions, and seasonal sales cycles, especially when fast market response is required. This service delivers a clear view of a promotion’s impact during the week or weeks the promotional event occurred. It gives you the flexibility to more effectively analyze sales influenced by holidays, seasons, and weather events. You can use this weekly information to analyze actual market price changes with increased precision, so you can better align pricing with drivers. It enables an apples-to-apples comparison to year-ago time periods.


Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking

Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking complements our national Retail Tracking Service – it can help you determine whether sales are distribution-driven or whether certain parts of the country are contributing more to national share or driving growth. The velocity measure set that is part of Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking takes into consideration sales volume (Annualized Industry Volume or AIV) rather than considering store count alone, for a more meaningful read on where products are selling and how they are performing.

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Account Level Reports

These reports enable retailers who choose this option to share their information with approved vendors, allowing vendors to analyze business performance at specific retailers down to the item level in many instances. By making this report available to their vendors, retailers can work together with them to optimize performance. These reports may only be made available with the express permission of the retailer.


Car Care Track

Look to Car Care Track for in-depth consumer behavior data for mapping long-term, sustainable growth in the automotive industry. With consumer profiles, category trends, and consumer purchase behavior detail, it offers a complete profile of the “do-it-yourself” and “do-it-for-me” customer markets throughout the U.S.


Motor Fuels Index

Explore the most comprehensive source of information for understanding the gasoline consumer and tracking trends in the U.S. gasoline marketplace. Based on information provided by more than 200,000 households annually, Motor Fuels Index helps petroleum marketing companies analyze and react to shifts in consumer behavior and keep up with marketplace changes.

Categories

  • Unleaded Gasoline (regular, mid-grade, premium)
  • Diesel
  • Alternative Fuels


Shopping Activity Services

Get access to insights on shopping, browsing, and buying visits across all channels, retailers, categories, and demographics. View conversion rate and average spend measures and see how they vary by retailer, season, and demographic. Gain an understanding of where else your customer is shopping and buying.



Automotive
Solutions


You have opportunities. You face threats. What you need are smart, quantifiable methods of distinguishing one from the other and maximizing your chances of success. NPD’s Analytic Solutions Group includes a team of senior leaders with extensive experience developing and delivering analytic solutions that address strategic marketing, sales, and planning issues.

We combine NPD POS and consumer information, industry expertise, and custom survey research – then add state-of-the-discipline research techniques and methodologies to explain the "why behind the buy.” Through advanced modeling and analytic services, we offer insight into what will happen in the future, not just what has happened in the past, answering your most pressing business questions:

See how clients have used our analytic solutions to solve their business challenges in our Analytic Solutions Case Study Library.


Automotive
Reports


Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

Despite the decline in gas prices compared to the previous November, the continuation of fall’s warmer-than-average temperatures in much of the country led to the first dollar volume decline of 2015 for the U.S. aftermarket. 

 


Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

The overall U.S. Consumer Confidence Index may have grown by +3.7 percent in October versus year-ago, but confidence in the Texas Region declined by -9.7 percent in the same period. Lower gas prices have had a negative impact on the oil and gas industry – resulting in layoffs or potential layoffs and less driving (which, in turn, means less maintenance).


Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

It was the perfect storm for the automotive aftermarket in September – mild weather prevailed, and average gas prices were a dollar less than they were at the same time last year. The extended good weather and less expensive gas combined to generate growth in several categories.


Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

In August, the overriding fundamentals remained – people were driving more, and the weather was favorable for maintenance and appearance. Growth in the overall aftermarket industry continued – even units/quarts were positive over the past six months.  Key categories supported by both aging vehicles and brand-new cars experienced strong growth.


Who are your most valuable auto parts customers?

Is it the heavy DIY’ers – the “Grease Monkey Mikes” – or the medium DIY’ers – the "Tune-Up Toms"?


Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

July saw car care heat up –categories related to hot weather and appearance had their moment in the sun. Batteries and battery accessories, along with refrigerants and accessories, were up in July. Appearance accessories and chemicals, too, got a summertime boost. See which products drove the growth and what it translated to in dollar gains.


Automotive
Press Releases


October 10, 2016

Consumers Increasingly Turning to the Pros for Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs, According to NPD

Compared to last year, the majority of automotive do-it-for-me (DIFM) consumers have shifted more of their vehicle maintenance and repairs to a professional, according to global information company The NPD Group’s Do-It-For-Me Consumer Report 2016. Convenience is the leading reason for the transition, followed by having the right tools for the job.


September 6, 2016

The NPD Group Signs Market Information Agreement with Nielsen, Broadening its Retail Tracking Coverage of the Automotive Aftermarket

Global information company The NPD Group, Inc. has signed a market information services agreement with Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, for retail market data within the U.S. automotive aftermarket. The market information licensed from Nielsen, which includes sales data from the food, drug, and convenience store channels, will complement NPD’s existing automotive business, which covers the mass and automotive specialty channels, allowing NPD to deliver the industry’s most complete view of the automotive aftermarket industry.


August 11, 2016

Automotive Aftermarket Unit Sales Reach Four-Year High in the U.S.

The story for a number of years within the U.S. automotive aftermarket industry has been that dollar sales have always outpaced unit sales, but the mid-year 2016 results show that a turning point has been reached, according to retail sales data from global information company The NPD Group, Inc. Unit/quart sales grew 1.8 percent in the first half of 2016, and for the first time in four years unit sales outpaced dollar sales within the industry.


February 23, 2016

Car Sales, Miles Driven, and Record-Breaking Temperatures Fuel Growth for Automotive Aftermarket

The automotive aftermarket industry grew to $14.6 billion in 2015, with dollar sales increasing by 3.9 percent and units/quarts by 1.7 percent*, according to global information company The NPD Group. While dollar sales have been accelerating since 2013, unit/quart sales have been down, and 2015 marked the first year in which both ended positively. New and used car sales, an increase in miles driven, and atypical weather were factors that influenced the aftermarket’s strong performance during the year.

Automotive
Insights


September 15, 2016

A Deep Dive To Understand Do-It-For-Me Consumers

A large number of U.S. consumers depend on service facilities for vehicle maintenance and repair. Do you know what these Do-It-For-Me consumers think of automotive service providers? What’s important to them when choosing a service provider? And what about satisfaction related to services performed during their most recent visit? Here’s a snapshot of the Do-It-For-Me consumer, to help you answer these questions.


August 10, 2016

Webinar: 2016 Automotive Mid-Year Review

This webinar will provide you with an overview of how the retail DIY automotive channel performed in the first six months of 2016 as well as give insights into understanding the macro-economic trends that had an impact on channel performance.


April 22, 2016

An Eye on Boomers’ Fuel Consumption

While Millennials have been on retailers’ radar as a prime demographic group to target, the Baby Boomer age cohort should not be ignored. Baby Boomers are the generation with the greatest buying power in the history of the U.S.; they account for a dramatic 40 percent of total consumer demand.


January 27, 2016

2015 Automotive Industry Year-End Review

See how the automotive industry performed in 2015 in this year-end review webinar, presented by Nathan Shipley, Director of NPD's US Automotive practice. Get a review of the macro trends that impacted performance of the DIY automotive channel in 2015 and see what's to come in the next 12 months.


November 30, 2015

Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

Despite the decline in gas prices compared to the previous November, the continuation of fall’s warmer-than-average temperatures in much of the country led to the first dollar volume decline of 2015 for the U.S. aftermarket. 

 


October 31, 2015

Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

The overall U.S. Consumer Confidence Index may have grown by +3.7 percent in October versus year-ago, but confidence in the Texas Region declined by -9.7 percent in the same period. Lower gas prices have had a negative impact on the oil and gas industry – resulting in layoffs or potential layoffs and less driving (which, in turn, means less maintenance).


September 30, 2015

Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

It was the perfect storm for the automotive aftermarket in September – mild weather prevailed, and average gas prices were a dollar less than they were at the same time last year. The extended good weather and less expensive gas combined to generate growth in several categories.


August 31, 2015

Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

In August, the overriding fundamentals remained – people were driving more, and the weather was favorable for maintenance and appearance. Growth in the overall aftermarket industry continued – even units/quarts were positive over the past six months.  Key categories supported by both aging vehicles and brand-new cars experienced strong growth.


July 31, 2015

Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

July saw car care heat up –categories related to hot weather and appearance had their moment in the sun. Batteries and battery accessories, along with refrigerants and accessories, were up in July. Appearance accessories and chemicals, too, got a summertime boost. See which products drove the growth and what it translated to in dollar gains.


June 30, 2015

Infographic: Aftermarket Perspectives

U.S. drivers logged more than 3 trillion driving miles in the year ending March 2015 – the most ever recorded. And gasoline consumption was up 4% in April. Which categories gained most from all those miles and gallons? What were the top-growing categories as consumers turned their attention to springtime car maintenance?


Automotive
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts


August 18, 2016

The Impact of Gas Prices and Weather Patterns on the Aftermarket Channel

The macro environment for growth in the DIY aftermarket auto parts channel has been very favorable so far in 2016 (through June).  There are a number of macro-economic trends that we closely monitor to better understand why our channel is performing the way it is.  The two main areas of focus are miles driven, which is heavily influenced by gasoline prices, and weather patterns.  Year to date, miles driven and gasoline prices have been positive influencers, while the lack of weather extremes hasn’t helped generate growth.

May 2016 set a new single-month record high for miles driven, and on a 12-month rolling basis it is trending at +3.4%.  Gasoline prices for the first 26 weeks of the year were, on average, $0.39 per gallon cheaper than the same period in 2015.  If we take a step back and look at the bigger picture for miles driven, we are starting to see a deceleration of the growth trend.  And if we change the lens to look at miles driven on a per capita basis, we see that as individuals, we are driving no more than we were 20 years ago.

Extreme cold, rain, snow, and even heat can really help the industry to move product.  The first six months of year, as an aggregate, ranked #3 out of 122 years for warmth.  On the precipitation front, so far, it has been an average year with no real extremes.  This lack of extreme cold and rain hasn’t benefited the industry.

For the first six months of the year, dollar volume in our channel only grew 1.5%.  There are a few factors that kept that number from being higher.  First, we are lapping two prior years of 4% growth.  Second, we’ve noticed that the average selling price in over half of the categories we track actually declined, which drove the overall average price of all tracked categories down 0.2%.  A change in the mix of what is selling has influenced this trend.  The battery category, ranked #1 in dollar volume, saw the “good” grade of batteries gain unit share at the expense of “better” and “best”.  In the full synthetic and high mileage motor oil segments, all top brands saw a decline in the price per quart, while private label volume increased.  A similar story emerged in the wiper category where “standard” blades grew share at the expense of “premium” blades.  Those three categories alone have a big influence on overall channel performance; in aggregate, they make up over 43% of total tracked volume in our channel.  All of this led to unit volume growth of 1.8%, marking the first time in the history of our sales tracking service that we’ve seen unit growth outpace dollar growth.

Our analytics and modeling team produced a forecast late last year that said our channel would grow 2.7% in 2016.  We are trending behind that forecast.  How will the second half of the year shape up?  Has our industry shifted promotions earlier in the year leading to soft performance?  A big winter storm in Q4 could dramatically influence the overall results as well.  Stay tuned.



September 29, 2015

Growth Streak Continues For The Automotive Aftermarket

Looking at the automotive aftermarket industry, the overriding fundamentals remain: people are driving more, the weather is favorable for maintenance and appearance, and the industry has experienced dollar growth for each month of 2015 thus far. Whether it is an aging vehicle or brand new car, the categories supported by these vehicle segments are experiencing strong growth*.


Old Car
Dollar sales of performance chemicals, a category traditionally driven by aging vehicle maintenance, grew 6 percent in August. Complete fuel system cleaners grew 8 percent – a major contrast to what has been seen over the past year. Other top growing segments include power steering fluid, oil stabilizers, and brake cleaners, which contributed a combined $1.2 million in growth to the category.

New Car
Unit sales reached 17.5 million for new cars in the 12 months ending August 2015**, the highest level since 2005, which could be driving growth in the appearance chemicals category (+5 percent). This category includes scratch removers (+18 percent), detailers (+15 percent), carpet/fabric care (+13 percent), and protectants (+5 percent).

Clean Car
Up 12 percent, the air fresheners category ranked #1 for dollar volume growth in August. Vent/clip on fresheners grew 21 percent and contributed the bulk of the dollar growth.

Cool Car
Items within the refrigerants and accessories category were heavily promoted all summer. The category overall experienced an 11 percent lift in dollar sales. In particular, a/c charging kits grew 12 percent and contributed nearly half of the total dollar volume gains for the category in August.

Old, new, clean, cool… Regardless of what phase your vehicle is in, a positive story continues to be told for various automotive aftermarket categories.

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service, 4 weeks ending August 29, 2015 versus same weeks in 2014
**International Business Times: ‘August 2015 US New Auto Sales: Americans Shrug At Global Market Volatility, Buy Cars At The Highest Pace In A Decade’


August 31, 2015

Millennials Are Adding Additives

This year, the Millennial generation is expected to surpass the Baby Boomers and become the largest living generation in the United States*. With a projected population of 75.3 million and a reported $200 billion in annual purchasing power, it is necessary for retailers, manufacturers, and marketers to understand and pay close attention to the behaviors of this newer, diverse breed of consumers.

Technology and fashion may be among the top industries that come to mind when considering Millennial consumption, but this generation is also leaving its tracks in the automotive aftermarket world. While they love smartphones and sneakers probably more than any other generation, we can also say the same about fuel additives. A recent study conducted by NPD found that 30 percent of younger Millennials (aged 18-24) said they would increase their usage of fuel additives, making them three times as likely as consumers aged 35-54 and six times as likely as those aged 55+ to say this**. Whether Millennials upgraded their fuel at the pump or treated it with a packaged additive, they are using more additives and are more concerned than any other generation about treating their fuel.

What is spurring this behavior? When asked why they would use more fuel additives, most Millennials cited “aging vehicles,” “problems with vehicles,” “a clean engine,” and “more educated about benefits” among their reasons. According to NPD’s Motor Fuels Index Database, Millennials are the most likely of any generation to drive older vehicles, as 36 percent report that their vehicle is at least 11 years old.

Understanding that Millennials are driving older cars and purchasing more fuel additives for a variety of reasons indicates that they are looking to increase their vehicle’s longevity and stretch their dollar. To attract Millennials, messaging around additives, cleaner engines, and increased vehicle longevity may help to capture this important group of consumers.

*Source: U.S. Census Bureau
**Fuel Additives: Consumer Insights on the Uptreatment of Fuel, July 2015


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