While visiting the EquipAuto aftermarket parts show last week in Paris, I was stunned to see the overwhelming number of Chinese booths. Every second year I tour this show and visit after visit I have seen the area dedicated to Chinese exhibitors growing regularly. But this year, Chinese exhibitors’ booths were everywhere, all over the show halls. Fairly small booths, but full of light bulbs, headlamps, rear lamps, and so on. I was confused, were we in China? No, we were in Paris, in Europe, facing a powerful and organized marketing campaign intended to take significant market shares of the automotive aftermarket. What should be our European reaction in front of such great Asian ambitions?
I think 3 levers should be kept in mind:
• Lighting performance: Even if in the aftermarket a large proportion of buyers want low cost, there is room for buyers who want repair or replacement parts that give safety performance equal to original equipment.
• Quality: As with performance, there’s room to market to those buyers who seek quality, durability, reliability, fit and finish equal to original equipment.
• Communications: The best benchmark for European high tech lighting products and communication was the Hella booth. There, the great gap with low cost countries was obvious. Truly, the Hella booth was a perfect summary of what lighting suppliers in the developed world must do to succeed. Great progresses have been done in lighting technologies but we lag behind in marketing when vying with low-price copies in the aftermarket. We must speak to the hearts and minds of everyone at every level in the buying chain: the insurance and repair industries, the car owners, and—particularly in cases where low-price aftermarketers have misappropriated intellectual property or falsely certified the compliance of their products—the regulators.
DVN General Editor