This week’s Westwood One blog post reveals results from two MARU/Matchbox studies commissioned by CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One that examine the buying habits of the American auto parts consumer.

The results show that through a focus on brand building campaigns to generate steady sales over time, AM/FM radio is an ideal medium to reach the younger, online shopping audience. As online auto parts shopping becomes a bigger part of the consumer process, auto parts retailers should look to AM/FM radio to deliver their message to the masses.

Highlights include:

  • Nearly half of auto parts shoppers have shopped online: From 2017 to 2019, the proportion of auto parts buyers who have shopped online has grown from 42% to 47%.
  • The more you buy, the more you shop online: Among ultra-heavy auto parts shoppers, those who have made 10+ shopping trips in the last two years, 80% have shopped online. An equally high proportion of do-it-yourselfers (83%) have shopped online in the past year.
  • Women are responsible for all the growth in online shopping for auto parts: From 2017 to 2019, the proportion of women who have shopped online for auto parts has grown 26% to 36% while the number of male online shoppers has held steady at 55%.
  • Younger consumers shop online more: More Millennials 18-34 (59%) have shopped online in the past year for auto parts compared to 2017. 35-49s (50%) are not too far behind. Online shopping falls off with 50-64s (32%).
  • Online auto parts shoppers are shifting away from retail to more online shopping: Overall, 17% of auto parts shoppers say they “shop more online than at a retail store location.” The “shop online more than retail” proportion is higher among do-it-yourselfers (40%), heavy AM/FM radio listeners (25%), and Millennials (26%).
  • Direct-to-consumer auto parts retailers (RockAuto and PartsGeek) experience growth in awareness and usage, especially among do-it-yourselfers: Both RockAuto and PartsGeek have grown awareness and usage over the past year. Among do-it-yourselfers, awareness has doubled. Far more do-it-yourselfers have shopped at RockAuto and PartsGeek versus the overall auto parts market.
  • Across every measure of auto parts shopping, heavy AM/FM radio listeners spend more, shop more often, and purchase at more retailers. It makes sense that AM/FM radio is heavily utilized by auto parts retailers: 40% of heavy AM/FM radio listeners are ultra-heavy shoppers (10+ shopping trips in the last two years) versus 24% of all auto parts shoppers, heavy AM/FM listeners have made 8 shopping trips in the past two years versus 6.3 for the category average, heavy AM/FM radio listeners shop at an average of 3.6 retailers, 29% of heavy AM/FM radio listeners are do-it-yourselfers versus 16% on average, and far more heavy AM/FM listeners have shopped online (67%) compared to the category average (47%).
  • While auto parts retailers are addicted to sales activation campaigns (the “carbs of advertising”), few utilize brand building campaigns (the “protein of advertising”): The massive number of marketing effectiveness studies analyzed by Binet and Field reveal the sales effects of brand building “decay away more slowly…in the long run, brand effects are the main driver of growth.” They find that the ideal mix of marketing investments should be 60% brand building and 40% sales activation.

Please reach out if you would like to learn more from our Insights team.