SEMA study: Young customizers spent $7.2 billion last year on aftermarket parts

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A study released this week by the Special Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) said young customizers spent $7.2 billion on aftermarket parts last year. | Pixabay photo
A study released this week by the Special Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) said young customizers spent $7.2 billion on aftermarket parts last year. | Pixabay photo

A study released Thursday by the Special Equipment Marketing Association showed that people ages 16 through 24 spent $7.2 billion last year on aftermarket upgrades and accessories.

The report said there is about 38.4 million people in the United States who fall into the 16-24 age bracket, and of those, 7.9 million — a full 20 percent — bought some sort of aftermarket part last year.

The percentage that modify their cars jumps to 33 percent when only considering the 24 million young people who own and drive a car. The only group that had a higher percentage of drivers who tweaked their cars was the 25-34 age bracket, in which 34 percent of those who owned and drove a car made changes.

While some drivers began modifying their cars as young as 16, a majority of last year’s buyers were in their early 20s. About one-quarter of people aged 21-24 bought some sort of aftermarket part.

Surprisingly, 66 percent of accessorizers said they picked up at least some of their parts from a traditional brick-and-mortar store.

“Those who only purchased parts from stores for their favorite project tend to continue to do so,” the report read. “Even those who only bought online for their favorite project were still drawn to the in-store shopping experience.”

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The average accessorizer has made three modifications to their vehicles, the report read. The most popular aftermarket parts picked up by young people were wheels. That was followed by exterior parts, chemicals and interior parts. The least popular aftermarket segment? Safety gear.

The most popular reason for wanting to modify a car was to make it look better. That was followed by getting a sense of pride, having more appreciation for their vehicle and to increase performance.

Of course, the biggest reason young people haven’t made tweaks to their car is one to which we all can relate: money. More than half of respondents cited their bank accounts as one reason why they were not modifying, with 35 percent saying that was the primary explanation.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

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