Market Snapshot: Some Stalling Within Universe of Car-Catalog Buyers

The automotive market has been crawling in reverse for the past few years, judging from the number of active buyers available for rental or exchange. According to New York-based list brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, the names of 2.7 million 12-month buyers from automotive parts and accessories catalogers were on the market during the fourth quarter of 2006. That’s down 1% from 2.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2005 and down more than 4% from the comparable quarter of 2004.

Multititle mailer J.C. Whitney & Co. has the largest house file in the segment, just shy of 684,000 12-month buyers. In addition to its core catalog, it mails specialty titles for trucks, sport compact cars, and classic VWs, among others. Stylin’ Concepts, which like Whitney is a unit of Automotive Specialty Accessories and Parts (ASAP), has the fourth largest active-buyer file, with nearly 135,600 12-month buyers. Stylin’ Concepts specializes in accessories for trucks and SUVs; number-two on the list, J&P Cycles, specializes in (surprise) motorcycle parts, with separate titles for current Harley-Davidson, vintage Harley-Davidson, and Metric bikes. Unlike the other merchants on the top-five list, AutoSport doesn’t specialize in aftermarket parts for specific models and makes; instead it sells auto and garage accessories and gifts, ranging from lumbar cushions to desk accessories to door openers.

A full quarter of the automotive catalogs received by ParadyszMatera last year offered at least one incentive, down a scant percentage point from 2005. Free shipping was the most popular incentive, with 16% of the auto books offering it last year and 17% the year before. Speedgear, which sells licensed apparel and gifts from Formula 1, Ferrari, Indy Racing, and the like, gave free shipping for orders of more than $50, while J&P Cycles reserved it for orders of at least $300, and Summit Racing Equipment provided free shipping only for orders weighing less than 150 lb. Performance Products, which sells parts for Porsches, Mercedes-Benzes, trucks, and SUVs, was the most active incentive mailer last year, regularly offering 10% discounts on affinity credit-card orders.

House file universe: automotive catalogs

4Q
2004
1Q
2005
2Q
2005
3Q
2005
4Q
2005
1Q
2006
2Q
2006
3Q
2006
4Q
2006
Total universe 2.9 2.9 2.9 2.7 2.8 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.7

Automotive catalogs with the largest active buyer files

Rank List name 4Q 2006 house file universe Average order
1 J.C. Whitney Buyers 683,966 $125
2 J&P Cycles 445,996 $135
3 Quadratec Essentials for Jeep Catalog Buyers 177,869 $163
4 Stylin’ Concepts Catalog Buyers 135,580 $185
5 AutoSport Catalog Buyers 126,153 $110
Source: ParadyszMatera

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