Recent Harris Williams Survey on Automotive Aftermarket Consumers

To more fully understand the key differentiators of successful automotive aftermarket companies, the Harris Williams Transportation & Logistics Group recently surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. consumers. Here we share the highlights.

As illustrated below, the survey has revealed which types of aftermarket products consumers buy most often, where they buy those products, and how much they spend on key categories in a year.

The poll also identifies the specific car ownership period during which consumers are likeliest to buy key types of aftermarket products, which factors drive purchases and which matter less, and the degree of loyalty felt by the average consumer.

Read on for the details, and contact us to discuss the implications for your business.

Six Key Insights

1. Which types of aftermarket repair, maintenance and/or performance products have you purchased for your vehicle? (Select all that apply)


INSIGHT: There is strong demand across automotive aftermarket categories, with significant numbers of consumers we polled reporting purchases of a wide variety of products. Among these, tires and wheels (51%), replacement parts (49%) and chemicals (38%) were the most frequently reported purchases, reflecting their need-based demand.


2. How much do you spend (per year, on average) on the following types of products?







INSIGHT: More than half (52%) of surveyed consumers spend at least $350 per year on do-it-yourself (DIY) maintenance and repair-related products, and 48% spend that much on DIY products that improve performance. Nearly one in five (18%) spend more than $1,000 on general maintenance and repair-related products each year.


3. Where did you purchase the products for your vehicle?


INSIGHT: While brick-and-mortar retail still anchors the aftermarket segment, with 42% of sales, the online channel is close behind. Indeed, 33% of surveyed consumers reported a purchase through third-party eCommerce sites like Amazon (18%) or manufacturer websites (15%). Authorized dealers and installers were listed by 22% of consumers, an indication of the complexity and installation requirements of many aftermarket products.


4: Over what period of time did you purchase aftermarket products for your vehicle? (select all that apply)


INSIGHT: While consumers tend to buy replacement parts and maintenance items whenever they are needed, there is a specific period when they are likeliest to buy accessories, upgrades and products that boost performance: immediately after a vehicle’s purchase or within one year of purchase. As time passes, consumers we polled become less likely to purchase such aftermarket products. Aftermarket suppliers could benefit from channel strategies that take advantage of this window of time when consumers’ willingness to spend is at its highest.


5: How important are the following characteristics in your decision on which brand of automotive aftermarket product to purchase (percentage rating each option “extremely important”)?


INSIGHT: In terms of purchase decision factors, product effectiveness and functionality are most important, followed by availability at a trusted retailer, ease of installation, and a recommendation from a repair shop or installer. Relatively less important: favorable online reviews, prestigious names, or recommendations from friends, family or store employees.


6: Based on your experience with the automotive aftermarket product you last purchased or use most frequently, how likely would you be to recommend that brand to a friend?


INSIGHT: Loyalty is high among buyers of automotive aftermarket products—86% are completely or very likely to recommend the brand of the last product they used (or the one they use most often) to a friend. While this is good news for incumbent market leaders, it also provides opportunities for new entrants to grow via word-of-mouth.


Automotive aftermarket companies can tap into strong consumer spending by:

  • Maintaining a presence in brick-and-mortar retail in addition to eCommerce
  • Focusing attention on recent new and used car buyers
  • Selling highly functional products through the most trusted retailers
  • Taking advantage of the opportunities created by strong brand loyalty

To discuss the detailed results of this survey and its implications for your business, please contact us.


This 2018 online survey collected responses from 2,285 U.S. respondents. It was conducted in partnership with Toluna Group, a leading global market research firm.

Published October 2018