One in five people in the world reside in just one country: China. A delegation of SEMA-member manufacturers recently traveled to this nation of 1.4 billion people to check out the automotive specialty-equipment market firsthand. During the four-day program, a dozen manufacturers met with pre-vetted buyers, toured top off-road and performance shops and were briefed by U.S. government officials based both in China and at the U.S. Department of Commerce headquarters. The delegation was struck by how the market, while clearly in its early years, has developed such a passionate enthusiast base with such strong potential.
Australia has a vibrant modified-car culture comprising three broad groups: pre-’49 street rods; post-’48 street machines, customs and musclecars up to the late ’70s; and later-model vehicles. The distinctions are important. Generally, the older the car, the more modifications are allowed. The culture is similar to that found in the United States, although the range and extent of modifications permitted is much more regulated and limited. And, of course, Australians drive on the other side of the road!
Tens of thousands of international buyers will be walking the 2016 SEMA Show looking for new products to export to their home markets. How do you, as an exhibitor, connect with these buyers who come to Las Vegas from Australia, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and more than 130 countries? They likely have just a few minutes to stop at any one booth, so how do you grab their attention and maintain their interest in order to introduce yourself and your product, scan their badges or collect their business cards? Here are some tips about how to attract buyers to your booth and what you can do even before the Show begins.
In late May, 20 SEMA-member companies ventured to Melbourne, Australia, for the inaugural SEMA Australia Business Development Program. This latest target market for the SEMA overseas development program joined similar programs in China, Russia and the Middle East.
The new Ford Raptor, built in Dearborn, Michigan, will be sold in China beginning next year, according to Ford officials. The Raptor will be the first pickup to be officially sold in China by any overseas manufacturer. Unveiled at the April 2016 Beijing Auto Show, the officially imported Raptor will go on sale in the United States later this year and in China in 2017. Ford will introduce only one model to that market initially—a four-door Supercrew with a turbocharged 3.5L V6 engine.
Nearly 40 SEMA-member companies traveled together to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of the fifth SEMA Middle East Business Development Program. The companies included manufacturers of engine performance, suspension, interior and exterior products and those whose products are used for racing, street performance and off-roading as well as for classic cars, restoration and hot rods. The group was in the Middle East learning about the local specialty-equipment market firsthand, tazweed-style (Arabic for customization).
Participating in SEMA’s international trips has helped SEMA members open new markets and grow business in existing markets. But participants have also learned that preparation and follow-up are key to getting the most out of the investment.
Why export? One of the proven methods to increasing the health of your firm is to diversify your customer base, which can improve your bottom line, lead to product-improvement ideas and improve a firm’s ability to ride out future economic downturns. It is also the way to reach the 97% of consumers residing outside the United States and take advantage of global demand for products made in the United States.
The United States and 11 other countries have agreed in principle to a mega free-trade agreement to eliminate tariffs and import quotas within their boundaries. Known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the deal includes the United States, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and it represents 40% of the world’s gross domestic product.
Twenty-one SEMA-member companies recently traveled to Shanghai, China, for the 2015 SEMA China Business Development Program, which included meetings with U.S. government officials in the area, tours of customizing shops, including a new shop that focuses on upgrading and distributing parts solely for Mustangs, Corvettes and other U.S. late-model musclecars, exhibiting in the SEMA section at the sold-out China Auto Salon (CAS) and, for the first time, participating in a measuring session featuring the winning vehicles in a SEMA-conducted survey of top customized vehicles in China that are not available in the United States.