By Brian Cruickshank, AAP
PAACE Automechanika Mexico took place for the eighth time from July 11-13 in Mexico City. Around 500 companies exhibited at the event, which attracted some 15,000 visitors. We asked some industry executives what they thought of this year’s show, as well as their general thoughts about the importance of the Mexican aftermarket.
Don "Chip" Carlson, director of marketing, ROL Manufacturing and general director of ROL Mexicana SA de CV, commented on the Mexican aftermarket, comparing it to the U.S. aftermarket: “I think that what I would associate as ‘different’ regarding the Mexican aftermarket would be the car parc. There are so many vehicle models in Mexico that we don’t have in the U.S. This creates a unique situation of necessary product coverage. Not only are there different models and manufacturers but there is also the issue of re-badging vehicle models. For example, you may find a Chevy-branded product that is really sitting on an Opel platform. It just makes life more challenging when it comes to product development for Mexico.”
Don James, marketing director, aftermarket, North America Continental Automotive Systems, noticed the abundance of products and the prevalence of brands at PAACE: “In terms of the Mexican aftermarket, the manufacturers’ brands are prominent. I immediately noticed a lot of brand presence when visiting jobbers and distributors. The Mexican aftermarket really values the brand and the value propositions that come with a strong brand. In-house or private-label brands really do not carry the weight of a manufacturer’s brand when it comes to the premium segment.”
Much like the excitement surrounding AAPEX in the U.S., PAACE generated a similar environment this year in Mexico .
James said, "The PAACE Show itself had lots of life, energy and excitement. I believe that the exhibitors were allowed to generate that excitement through clever marketing and presentation ideas. The audience interaction between the vendors, consumers and technicians was also interesting. It was refreshing to see that this automotive aftermarket show had life and was an effective means of connecting directly to the customer.”
Connecting to the customer in the aftermarket today not only means being global, but means effectively reaching out to the market in your own neighborhood. In recent years, Mexico has made some big advances when it comes to evolving into a bigger and better market player.
“I would say that eight years ago, the Mexican market was like the U.S. market 25 years ago. The market was much more independent, with family-owned business and really no program groups," Carlson said. “The Mexican market has continued to grow exponentially over the years and with the proliferation of the car parc, the business strategies have changed. You no longer have four to five vehicles that dominate more than 50 percent of the market. Ten years ago, the Volkswagen Sedan and the Nissan Tsuru commanded more than 50 percent of annual vehicle sales combined. So, from a marketing standpoint, if you had coverage on Volkswagen, Nissan, General Motors and Chrysler, you were going to do fine. Now, in order to compete a product line must carry Volkswagen, Seat, Peugeot, Renault, Fiat, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, BMW, Volvo, Audi, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, etc. and the list is growing daily.”
Carlson added, “Small vehicles dominate in Mexico and historically, the U.S. Big 3 has not carried the necessary vehicles to play in this segment, thus, several European and Asian manufacturers have taken advantage of their small-liter engines and have set up shop in Mexico . From a business standpoint, the warehouse distributors and retailers in Mexico are world class and it is similar to doing business in the U.S., with the exception that personal relationships still play a big role in doing business in Mexico.”
James concluded, “We do not necessarily market differently in the Mexican region. ATE is recognized as a premium brand, not only in this region, but worldwide. The quality and value propositions that we present and market globally are consistent. There is a great deal of premium sales opportunities in this region and we have been offering ATE brake products to satisfy this market need for some time.”