You’re walking down the main street of a beachside suburb called Glenelg, in Adelaide, South Australia. Its Friday night at 11pm and the end of a long hot summer day, so the bitumen is still giving off heat from the day, the grass is brown, the trees are wilting, and the businesses along the main street are all closed for the night. Around the corner you can hear a car running, a high-pitched whine and a constant boom, boom, boom – the sound of a car stereo at high volume. There’s the occasional laugh and the sound of chatter. Walking around the corner, you find 25 late-1990’s Japanese cars lined up with kids in their teens and twenties proudly standing in groups chatting by each one.
There’s boys and girls bent over their cars, elbow-deep in engine bays tweaking and modifying. A couple of the cars are running, the high-pitched whine coming from the turbo deep in the engine bay. You can hear the window panes of the business you’re standing next to rattle as two of the cars are revved hard, as if competing with each other, causing the crowd to cheer wildly as flames shoot from the exhausts. The ground shakes with the heart-thrumming bass from the boot of one car, where three 15-inch subwoofer speakers are lit with a red neon.
In the early 2000’s in Adelaide the streets used to reverberate with the sound of loud exhausts, subwoofers and cheers of, “burnout, burnout, burnout!”
These kids would all arrive at auto parts and accessories dealers as customers the next day, spending up big on tachos, shift lights, boost gauges, exhausts, neons and car audio equipment. They were the ideal customer – young, cashed up, enthusiastic and out to beat the next guy.
Then the government enacted the ‘anti-hoon’ legislation in South Australia, and it became illegal to modify a car and have a loud exhaust, booming stereo, or ‘distracting visual modifications’ like neons. Overnight, the Japanese performance parts business for retailers like Autobarn disappeared. Young lads and ladies couldn’t buy the Nissan Skyline or Toyota Chaser that they used to buy, and they couldn’t put in a big stereo, loud exhaust, blow-off valves or big tachos.
These customers didn’t disappear, they still had money to spend and their car was their status symbol. They moved their money into four wheel drives. Now it’s not uncommon to see a normal suburban 4WD that has been heavily modified, with roof racks, shovels, huge tyres and big bore diesel exhausts towering over the hatchbacks and sedans at lights.
This customer shift in retail brought an opportunity for the vehicle parts & accessories dealers in Adelaide. Now they could cut the performance parts & accessories from the shelves and move in to 4WD. Those that did experienced big jumps in sales, and became known amongst the groups as 4WD specialists.
Always keep an eye on what’s happening in your target customer groups. The trends are constantly shifting, and you can catch that wave!