Building value in the battery category

Jan. 1, 2020
Maturity and stability are two words that really characterize North America?s starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) automotive battery market. Research indicates that the market is forecast to grow in the 1-2 percent range annually.

Maturity and stability are two words that really characterize North America’s starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) automotive battery market. Research indicates that the market is forecast to grow in the 1-2 percent range annually.

Growth is largely driven by the modest vehicle population growth and increased load. Although the economic news continues to be turbulent in 2011, consumer commitment to automotive maintenance and repairs has recovered from 2008. About 25 percent of vehicles on the road require a new battery each year. For the automotive parts business, batteries represent one of the top five components that draw vehicle owners into automotive retailers and service locations.

The majority of vehicle owners, roughly 74 percent replace automotive batteries when they experience a decline in performance. As with most automotive components, by the time the driver is sensing an issue, the component is typically beyond the recommended safety range of either the component manufacturer and/or the vehicle manufacturer.

Although today’s batteries are quite robust, owners continue to underestimate the impact of “add-on” accessories, especially those run when the vehicle’s engine is off, are having on batteries. An already low battery is quickly drained by radio, video, or charging activities.
In 2011, forty-two percent of the people who used their roadside service in 2010 did so because of battery issues. Emergency situations create an unexpected purchase and decisions in these situations, especially those where the products are commodities, are typically dominated by price and brand.
While the majority of owner’s are purchasing batteries in an “on-demand” fashion, about 32 percent are proactively changing their battery because of installer recommendations or their automotive maintenance manual. This provides hope to those in the industry that batteries can be sold on value versus just price and brand. To do so effectively installers and store personnel need information that effectively communicates value.

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Educating the educators

A couple of companies are using some interesting communication tools:
Firestone Complete Auto Care; as part of its on-line Battery section under Repairs provides a succinct explanation of three factors that impact battery life and a very visual climate map to emphasize regional needs.

Free Battery testing is a first step in opening the lines of communication about battery replacement. Firestone, AutoZone, and E Z Lube are few that now offer free testing. EZ Lube goes that next step offering a computerized battery check with read out that calculates key factors impacting battery health and charge. It provides a visual and measurable means for the consumer to evaluate the need for a new battery.

The tools being used to communicate value are generic to any brand and are generating sales opportunities for the specific location. Because batteries are so commoditized, installers are able to sell off their shelves further emphasizing the importance of distribution alliances for manufacturers. If value is in the service, manufacturers need to align with those distributors, retailers and shops that proactively seek out replacement opportunities rather than wait for the price conscious, under duress consumer.

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