Instead of carrying three different options for customers to choose from, cut that down to two. That means a premium and value option, according to a veteran automotive aftermarket leader.
John Washbish, president and chief executive officer of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, believes aftermarket parts quality is in a good place.
“Generally speaking, I think the quality on aftermarket parts, whether they be light-duty, or heavy-duty, is better than we’ve ever seen,” said during an episode of Curbside Chat, the video podcast series from the Automotive Industries Association of Canada. “Once again, generally speaking, the quality is pretty, pretty good.”
He thinks the conversation around what is being offered needs to shy away from “good, better and best.” Many retailers will have three options and all will have at least two. During the pandemic, it was so hard for shops to get their hands on particular products, they often asked for whatever the jobber had on the shelf.
“During the pandemic, we sold the heck out everything — we sold all the premiums because when the installer called, he didn’t care. ‘Just give me what you got to get it fixed,’ [they would say],” Washbish said.
He figures much of the inflated bottom line of the aftermarket can be traced to the fact that more premium products were sold as a result of shortages in lower-priced options.
But now as inflation skyrockets and pushes the price of everything from bread to gasoline to levels never seen before levels, consumers are looking anywhere they can to save money. That means pushing for more affordable replacement parts on their vehicle.
“We’re seeing almost an immediate shift from premium back the value right now because of the price gap. In most cases, personally speaking, we’re seeing almost an immediate shift from premium back the value right now because of the price gap,” Washbish said.
“In most cases, personally speaking, I don’t think you need a ‘good, better, best’ [system] — you need a better and a best to get the job done.”
Jobbers and shops should keep an eye out for this trend toward the lower-cost option. “I’m predicting that for the next few months we’re going to see a shift back to more of the lower cost items, the value items, because gas money has taken so much out of disposable income in the States and Canada,” Washbish said.