Pickup trucks are versatile, rugged and built to haul and tow heavy goods. This means that along with being popular with daily and long-distance drivers, they are also extremely useful to a number of professions.
While many see pickup owners as a good friend to have when you move a couch, they see truck ownership in a more personal way. Customization has become a key reason why consumers like owning pickups, and aftermarket sales show it to be true.
Sales from pickup accessories made up $16 billion in 2021, or 31% of all automotive aftermarket sales in the U.S., according to SEMA's 2022 Pickup Accessorization Report.
While CUVs are the most popular passenger vehicles in operation in the U.S., accounting for 24% of the 283.9 million passenger vehicles, pickup trucks are a close second, representing 21%.
The majority of pickups on the road are full-size models, such as the Ford F Series, Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and Dodge RAM, due to their flexibility to serve as a workhorse, a vacation vehicle or an off-road/recreation vehicle, according to the report.
The difference is in the aftermarket, where SEMA said pickups are "concentrated within a relatively small number of models," which means a wider diversity of parts and a greater opportunity for consumers to customize their rides.
SEMA noted that consumers who purchase late-model pickup trucks intend to modify their vehicles shortly after taking ownership. The top two reasons for modification is to increase towing capabilities and to "make it look cool."
That's all good news for the tire and wheel industry.
"Off-road/oversized tires" was the top product category purchased in 2021, SEMA said in the report.
Trends among tire makers show a shift to meet this demand with product line expansions for larger-rim diameter tires and new products aimed at the light-truck segments.
Almost every tire maker across the globe has reacted to the increased demand for light truck, SUV and CUV tires. This includes:
Sumitomo Rubber North America said it is adding 15 new sizes to its WildPeak A/T Trail line, mostly for larger fitments and also will launch the WildPeak R/T for customers looking for ultra-aggressive tread designs, especially for lifted trucks and trucks used to tow and haul.
Continental said it was in the process of expanding its North American plants to increase the capacity to mix more rubber that, in turn, will be used to manufacture larger diameter tires.
SEMA said the popularity of pickup trucks among U.S. drivers will grow in the next decade, and so will the investment in aftermarket parts and service.
This bodes well for anyone looking to move a couch in the future. It also is good for aftermarket.
For tire dealers, this might be a good time to reset and educate your sales team on the latest "details." Helping a customer find the right "look" for their tires — along with performance — could go a long way in establishing a longtime business relationship.
Businesses can attract customers with a strong online presence and help their sales by making sure visitors both in store and online have access to the advice and product information they need in order to make a decision, the report suggested.
Accessorizers are more likely to listen to people they know and trust than social media influencers. Word-of-mouth and in-store visits are also important parts of the research process.
One other piece of advice: Retailers should have a multi-channel marketing strategy and ensure someone on their staff is an expert.
It could mean big sales, in more ways than one.