Auto Service World
News   June 6, 2024   by Adam Malik

How consumer aftermarket perceptions have changed

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Consumers are finding dealers more convenient, lower priced, fairer and with greater technical expertise than before, a recent report found.

A recent Lang Marketing iReport revealed significant changes in consumer perceptions of service stations and garages versus dealers from 2018 to 2023, with notable shifts across key factors such as convenience, technical repair capacity and price.

Convenience of repair

Service stations and garages have historically received high consumer ratings for convenience, attributed to their widespread locations. The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the number of outlets available to consumers, leading to a significant decline in their numbers. This reduction has decreased the perceived convenience of using service stations and garages for many consumers.

Technical repair capacity

Dealers are perceived to have superior technical repair capacity compared to service stations and garages. This perception is particularly strong among owners of foreign nameplate vehicles and newer models. Consumers believe dealers possess greater technical expertise, especially for complex repairs, which has widened the perceived gap in technical repair capacity between sealers and service stations and garages.

Low price

Consumers continue to see service stations and garages as offering lower prices for repairs compared to dealers. This perception is the most pronounced among the four factors measured. However, dealers have been making efforts to become more price competitive, particularly for routine repair jobs like oil changes and brake work. By offering aftermarket brands for older vehicles, dealers have narrowed the price gap, making them more appealing to cost-conscious consumers.

Fairness of price

Service stations and garages are still viewed as offering fairer prices than Dealers. This perception is less pronounced among consumers with foreign nameplates and newer vehicles. Nevertheless, Dealers are working to improve their image by emphasizing convenience and technical expertise, which helps position their pricing as fairer in the eyes of consumers.

Changing perceptions and market impact

Over the past five years, consumer perceptions of service stations and garages and dealers have evolved, influenced by both external factors like COVID-19 and strategic actions by dealers. Dealers have enhanced their services by introducing quick lube services, quick-service lanes and extended business hours, aiming to improve convenience and capture a larger share of the do-it-for-me (DIFM) market.

These efforts appear to be paying off. Consumers now perceive dealer repairs as more convenient, lower-priced, and fairer than they did five years ago. Meanwhile, the perceived technical gap between dealers and service stations and garages has grown, reinforcing dealers’ advantages in complex repairs.

As a result, Lang reported, dealers have significantly increased their share of the DIFM market between 2018 and 2023, while service stations and garages have seen a decline. With many dealers focusing on expanding their service bay business, this trend is expected to continue, leading to a greater share of total DIFM volume being captured by dealers and a reduction in the share held by independent outlets.

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