One channel is projected to outperform all major channels in its DIFM product and share growth through 2025
Fort Wayne, Ind.—The Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) car and light truck aftermarket climbed by more than $8 billion at user-price from 2017 through 2022. However, the growth path was not smooth. The strong DIFM gain from 2017 through 2019, was followed by an abrupt decrease in 2020 caused by COVID-19.
However, the resilience of the aftermarket prevailed, and DIFM volume recovered strongly in 2021 and 2022, according the 2024 Lang Aftermarket Annual.
“Not all five distribution channels supplying the car and light truck aftermarket participated equally in the DIFM product growth from 2017 to 2019 or in the strong DIFM rebound during 2021 and 2022,” states the report.
Here a few takeaways from the analysis.
Aftermarket Distribution Channels
Five major distribution channels supply the U.S. car and light truck aftermarket: Traditional, Integrated, Specialized, Import, and OE.
Each channel held a different annual share of DIFM products from 2017 through 2022, and each made a different contribution to the annual DIFM market performances over the last five years.
The Traditional channel (traditional warehouses and traditional jobbers) ranked second in 2017 DIFM product volume and captured nearly a 25% share at user-price. However, the Traditional channel declined in DIFM product share over the next two years, and it was impacted by the 2020 aftermarket downturn.
This trend continued during the aftermarket’s recovery following 2020, and the Traditional Channel held about one-tenth less DIFM share in 2022 than five years earlier.
In the Integrated channel, products do not change hands (or franchise affiliation) from when they are purchased from manufacturers to their sale to installers and other end-users.
The Integrated channel captured the largest 2017 DIFM product share, more than 30%, and continued to expand its share through 2019. COVID-19 caused a modest decline in the Integrated channel’s 2020 product volume, but it rebounded sharply over the next two years.
By 2022, the Integrated channel topped a 32% car and light truck DIFM product share, up sharply from 2017.
The Specialized channel is characterized by its involvement in a particular segment of the aftermarket or with a select group of products.
From 14% of the 2017 DIFM product volume, the Specialized channel steadily declined in product sales and share. By 2022 it represented one-tenth less DIFM product share than in 2017.
The Import channel consists of import warehouses and import jobbers and specializes in products for foreign nameplates (imports and transplants).
The Import channel was one of only two channels to gain car and light truck product share between 2017 and 2020 when COVID-19 reduced 2020 DIFM annual product sales by more than 10% from the previous year. The Import channel performed well during the post-COVID-19 recovery and significantly expanded its product share between 2017 and 2022.
The OE channel involves manufacturers and warehouses that supply products to dealerships across the U.S. Following its DIFM share growth between 2017 and 2019, the OE channel added to its 2020 DIFM product share despite COVID-19.
Over the next two years, the OE channel’s DIFM product share slipped, but its 2022 DIFM share was larger than five years earlier.
Channel Share of DIFM Product Growth
The Integrated channel generated nearly 44% of DIFM product growth between 2017 and 2022. The OE channel ranked second, with 24% of DIFM product growth, followed by the Traditional channel at nearly 23%.
The Import channel was responsible for about 10% of light vehicle DIFM product growth between 2017 and 2019. The Specialized channel declined in DIFM volume between 2017 and 2022.
Projected Channel DIFM Performances
Lang Marketing projects that the Integrated channel will continue outperforming all major channels in its DIFM product and share growth through 2025.
The OE channel will rank second in DIFM product growth during this time, followed by the Import channel, which will increase its share of DIFM product growth.
Although its DIFM product volume will climb between 2023 and 2025, the Traditional channel will suffer a minor reduction in its DIFM share. The Specialized channel will decline in DIFM product sales and share between 2023 and 2025.