Sept. 7, 2009 – Four ways to grow sales in a down economy

MADISON, Wis. — Are there certain segments of the aftermarket that are showing more resiliency to the recession than the category as a whole?
Aftermarket officials at the recent Parts Unlimited Showcase 2009 were asked that question and responded with at least four different areas that are doing just that.

Under $200

Phil Davy, brand manager for Icon, highlighted two items that have moved well at prices under $200: helmets and textile jackets.
“Helmets are doing very, very good for Icon right now. In particular the helmets that are between $150-$200,” Davy said.
That price-point category at times has included helmets that were not very popular due to their limited features. “Manufacturers have taken features out of them to hit those price points,” Davy explained. “We threw a bunch of features back into our helmet at that price point and it’s been fantastic for us.”
Textile jackets in that same price category also have performed well in retail, Davy says.
“All the manufacturers have done a better job of making textile jackets,” he said. “Textile jackets used to not fit properly. They were ugly; they were goofy. They weren’t anything you wanted to be seen in. Now they are. Now they’re functional as well as being very, very fashionable.”


For Kipp McGowan, sales manager at RK Excel America, it’s a very clear line. The difference between what is and what is not moving is the difference between consumers’ “wants” and “needs.”
“With our product line, the stuff that is moving is the stuff that wears out” because of normal wear and tear, he said.
That has certainly been the case with the company’s chain and sprockets kits and even some of its tool kits.
“We have a lot of momentum with those,” McGowan said, highlighting the chain and sprocket kits. “Sales have been really strong the last three or four years with those and it seems to be carrying through this recession time.”


For some, the idea of carrying anything on a motorcycle outside of the traditional saddlebag is still a whole new concept.
Tom Seymour, co-owner and president of Saddlemen, says the company has been trying to educate consumers and dealers on the variety of alternatives available now.
“The reality is saddlebags are one of the most difficult things to install on a motorcycle so there are a lot of other types of luggage that fit on your motorcycle other than a saddlebag,” he said.
“Seat bags, rack bags and sissy bar bags actually fit your motorcycle more easily and come off more easily and are relatively low cost,” he said.
They also have been a growth item for Saddlemen. Seymour says the company’s sales in those segments are up approximately 25 percent over a year ago. Part of that sales increase comes from the company’s increased focus on those saddlebag alternatives but also from the continuing education occurring within riding groups.
“It’s well worth looking at on the business side,” he said of alternatives to saddlebags.

New model buzz

Compared to recent years, there are not a whole lot of new unit models that are so new and different they can be called “show stoppers.” Honda’s chopper-style Fury may be one of those.
Blaine Birchfield of Cobra Engineering noted just that at the Parts Unlimited event. “Every Honda dealer and accessory dealer stops and looks at this new Fury and our new product,” Birchfield said of the Fury that was showcased at the Cobra 2009 Showcase booth.
Birchfield says the company has seen strong initial sales from its Speedster Swept exhaust for the Fury and is working on adding more accessories for that model, including a luggage rack, in the near future. PSB

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