Oils, Filters Gain Online During Pandemic

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Oils, Filters Gain Online During Pandemic

Motor oils and filters were among the fastest growing automotive aftermarket categories online in 2020 in the United States, as the pandemic altered the do-it-yourself landscape last year and through May this year, according to a market analysis and business intelligence firm.

The top growing aftermarket categories with the online consumer last year included motor oil, which grew by $67 million, or 72%, and filters, which grew by $53 million, or 35%, according to findings by The NDP Group in Auto Care Association’s 2022 Factbook. The categories are ranked by absolute online dollar growth, as part of NPD Group’s Checkout service.

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“Almost every retail industry was directly affected by pandemic-driven changes in consumer behavior, and the automotive aftermarket was no different,” Nathan Shipley, executive director and industry analyst for The NPD Group, said in a news release. “With the reduction in driving behavior last year, many thought the industry would take a significant hit. Instead, we saw an uptick in project and recreational purchases for the old antique car parked in the garage, the new boat or RV purchased for family vacations, or simply products to detail the ‘daily driver’ vehicles sitting idle in the driveway, all of which offset any downside from the reduction in miles driven.”

The automotive aftermarket grew by 18% from January through May of 2021, NPD said in a news release, and some of that growth so far this year can be credited to the millions of new aftermarket consumers added last year. Based on analysis of tracking data, nearly 4 million people were new to the U.S. aftermarket in 2020. NPD noted the aftermarket spend increased almost 9% per buyer in 2020. While the online spend per buyer jumped more than 25%, NPC found that in-store buyers spent considerably more. The frequency of purchasing online for aftermarket consumers was 1.5 times per year, compared to 5.6 times per year in-store.

The company found that 64% of aftermarket consumers last year shopped in-store only, and 31% shopped both in-store and online. Just 11% shopped online only.

In an infographic posted in June, NPD said its analysis of online shopping showed that the online auto parts shopper is 50% more likely to do major auto repairs themselves than non-online auto parts shoppers. The online auto parts shopper typically lives in the suburbs or a rural area, is a homeowner and is 27% more likely than other shoppers to drive a car or motorcycle to work.

In another infographic posted last month, NPD noted that despite having a negative impact on miles driven, the pandemic led to both existing and all-new automotive aftermarket consumers spending more time taking on car care projects last year.

“The automotive [do-it-yourself] consumer landscape looks different today than it did prior to 2020,” Shipley said. “Taking the time to better understand the who, what, where and why behind these changing consumer patterns will pay huge dividends in the future. Not only does our industry have all-new people to market to, but consumers who were already engaged with us have changed their behavior, too.  Marketing and pricing efforts should look different post-pandemic as a result.”

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