Dec. 24, 2007 – A clearer picture of the market

By Neil Pascale
A data management company with ties to the auto, RV and marine industries is bringing a new level of data collection to the powersports industry, something that figures to be of interest to aftermarket companies.
R.L. Polk & Co., a member of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), has begun providing monthly new unit registration data to the powersports industry that shows not only brand information but model information. The latter figures to be particularly compelling to aftermarket companies — not to mention smaller vehicle manufacturers — that can now pinpoint the top-selling new bikes on the market. The monthly data also will allow companies to see trends, meaning parts and accessory forecasting could become more manageable.
Polk receives the new unit information from consumer registration data received from all
50 states before cleaning the data up to make it reader-friendly and then sending it to clients.
“It’s a pretty big effort,” said Eric Papacek, an analytical consultant for Polk. “We have a lot of IT resources on it, and we typically have a 40-45 day lag.” Meaning data from December is not expected to be available until mid-February.
The monthly new unit registration data is something the company just recently began offering. Previously, Polk provided overall motorcycle registration information, so industry companies could see what vehicles were currently on the road. That has now evolved to the monthly data, something Polk offers in the auto industry.
“It’s primarily driven by market demand,” Papacek said of Polk’s new monthly data offering. “A lot of the fellow (MIC) members have worked with Polk data in the past and know about our reputation and history on the car and truck side. So they were asking for monthly registration reporting on the motorcycle side.”
That monthly registration data will be available in five different categories: on-road and off-road motorcycles; dual purpose bikes; ATVs and scooters. Polk’s data also includes some reporting on the V-twin custom manufacturers.
The monthly data will include information on:
n model year and make of vehicle;
n cylinders, stroke and displacement of vehicle;
n vehicle body style.
The same level of reporting will be available for preowned vehicles on a monthly basis, Papacek says.
Along with specific vehicle information, Polk also can provide data specific to certain regions, from breaking down data from a particular state or zip code to even a specific city.
The region-specific data can be especially useful to companies seeking to gauge their market share in a certain area, something that’s not uncommon for insurance companies to do in the auto business, Papacek says.
“So they see 50,000 vehicles are registered (in a state) and they wrote 10,000 policies, so they had a 20 percent penetration,” Papacek said.
The region-specific data also can help companies determine forecasting levels, knowing a particular Harley-Davidson accessory, for example, might be more highly sought after in an area that is selling an especially high number of cruisers.
Regional information also is frequently sought after by dealers, Papacek says.
“A lot of the work we do is with dealers, and they care about their eight or 10 zip codes” that they do business in, he noted.
Cost of the registration data differs according to what level of information the company is seeking. However, Papacek did provide some baseline prices: $600 is the cost for getting U.S.-level numbers for new motorcycle registrations and includes make and year of the model. An additional $150 provides both new and preowned registrations. Those two figures are for annual motorcycle registrations and does not include the cost of monthly data.

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