Whether buying new or used, today’s customers accessorize their truck or SUV with aftermarket wheels and tires. It is the No. 1 way to personalize a truck. There is no doubt that consumers are spending on parts and tires.
Damon Nielson, a Utah-based seller of wheels, tires, and lifts explains to Modern Tire Dealer, “Custom wheels are one of the few things people are excited about when they come into a shop. They get to dress up their car, they get to make it unique, and they get to make it their own. Custom wheels go hand-in-hand with tires and lift kits.”
The excitement that Nielson sees translates to sales. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis measures personal consumption of auto parts and tires through all channels (brick and mortar stores, on-line sales, etc). Since the summer of 2016, these sales have been on a strong upward trend in growth.
The trend continues to be positive for the first half of 2017 and beyond. If you don’t offer the option to accessorize while the truck is still at the dealership, you are leaving money on the table.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Get to know the truck accessories market.
Truck buyers want accessories
A study conducted by Foresight Research of almost 7,500 buyers found that being able to accessorize a vehicle influenced 12% of all vehicles sold. Also, 23% of the new vehicle buyers said that the availability of accessories was an influencing factor in selecting a dealer, but less than half of dealers display accessorized vehicles.
With new technology available, services such as AddOnAuto allow the buyer to visualize the truck with accessories without taking up valuable showroom space. This reduces overhead, increases customer satisfaction, and profitability.
Barriers to market entry are falling; it’s time to tap into the truck accessories market. Here is what you should know.
The truck wheel and tire market is huge
There’s no better time to enter. The aftermarket truck wheel and tire market is booming.
The 2016 SEMA Market Report estimates the size of the off-road and plus-size tire aftermarket at $3.73 billion, with 39% going to pickups alone. That doesn’t even include the CUV and SUV market.
According to online mega wheel dealer, Wheelfire.com, truck wheels and tires accounts for 62% of all sales. And 26% of those purchases were for 2016 and 2017 model year trucks.
Clearly truck buyers are enthusiastic about immediately upgrading their vehicle after purchase. When you make it easy to accessorize the truck before it drives off the lot, you drive additional profit to the bottom line.
Getting to know truck wheels
With so much money to be made, there are literally thousands of brands chasing the truck wheel market. It’s enough to make your head spin.
By focusing on the dominant brands and the trucks most commonly accessorized, you can tailor your accessory marketing efforts to maximize results.
The dominant brands
Fortunately, just a few wheel brands dominate, making it easier to get up to speed and understand the different aftermarket wheels niches.
Here are the major players in the world of truck wheels.
Wheel Pros brands
Wheel Pros is one of the world’s largest suppliers of wheels for SUVs and light and heavy-duty trucks.
KMC is its lifestyle brand, and the XD series is designed to accommodate aggressive lifted fitments. Moto Metal is the brand that focuses on custom work, and is popular with Jeeps and all dually makes.
Helo Wheels fill the need for larger fitments, and are available up to 24-in diameters. They are popular with Toyota owners and off-roaders who appreciate negative and neutral offsets.
These offsets are necessary when you have big tires and narrow axles. Serious rock crawlers don’t want to risk damage by the frame or suspension when the wheel is turned.
Launched in 2009 by the wheel giant MHT Luxury Alloys, the brand quickly gained a reputation for quality construction with off-roaders.
It is popular with the Dodge, Chevy, and Jeep owners who are serious about their off-road experience. The Anza D116 is one of the few true bead locks on the market today.
Red Dirt Road
This may be one of the newest off-road brands, but it is one of the hottest.
If you sell used Jeeps, you’re probably already familiar with Red Dirt Road. Jeep owners are notorious for their love of aftermarket wheels, and Red Dirt Road wheels are the ones they love the most.
Every wheel in this line has a serious negative offset. This makes these wheels as popular with daily drivers as they are with serious off-roaders.
Most frequently modified trucks and SUVs
Just because all trucks can be modified doesn’t mean they will be.
Off-roaders make up a substantial share of the aftermarket wheels and tires sales. Even search giant Google has noted a 41% increase in mobile searches for off-road accessories.
Buyers who accessorize their trucks tend to buy the same makes and models. If you want to maximize profit with accessories, then focus on these vehicles, the ones most frequently modified with aftermarket wheels:
- Ford: F-150, F-250
- Chevy: Silverado 1500, Silverado 2500, Colorado
- Dodge: Ram 2500, Ram 1500
- Toyota: Tundra
- Jeep: Wrangler
The truck accessories trifecta
As trucks have become more fuel efficient and more car-like, they have reduced ground clearance. It’s great for fuel economy, not so much for driving a truck like a truck was meant to be driven.
The result is a major increase in the popularity of the suspension lift kit. Lifting the suspension gives the driver greater off-road capability without decreasing the ability to tow or reducing load capacity.
No wonder that the trifecta of truck accessories is a suspension lift and then wheels and tires to fill the larger area. It’s what truck buyers want but dealerships aren’t delivering.
That’s okay with Doug Sprinthall, spokesman for the Walser Automotive chain. He says dealers hate doing major suspension lifts on trucks, so they refer customers elsewhere.
In an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune he boasted, “. . . the aftermarket companies around town do a better job than the dealers do [with attracting that business].”
In case you didn’t catch that, he is saying an entire market with multiple players has grown up around the money you leave on the table with each truck sale.
Don’t leave money on the table
Truck buyers want lifts, wheels, and tires. If you don’t sell them, someone else will. If another dealer offers these accessories, they are going to get your sales.
In today’s competitive truck market, it only makes sense to give buyers what they want: lift, wheels, and tires.
Chuck Krause is Wheelfire Blog’s managing editor. Since the early 2000’s, he has managed and owned a number of internet retail stores in the automotive parts industry. He is an especially enthusiastic owner of his off-road “monsterized” Jeep Wrangler. A fixture in every summer’s Jeep jamboree (where his reputation for extreme mudding and trail riding are legendary), Chuck is well-known for his infectious passion and knowledge about all things automotive.
Latest posts by Chuck Krause
- Why You Should Get to Know the Truck Accessories Market - August 25, 2017