Final Reflections on SEMA 2009

Every year at this time, as the year draws to a close, we have an opportunity to reflect on the past and set some new resolutions for the coming year. For our business, I call this event SEMA. We wrapped up our annual visit a few weeks ago and now I’ll take some time to reflect on what we observed, learned, and have otherwise taken from the show to better position us to serve you.

First, what we observed, much of the same as in previous years albeit with a renewed optimism buoyed by the recovering economy; lots of tricked out cars (mostly exotics, Camaros and Mustangs). Compact performance seemed to take on a lesser role at this years show. This is certainly true with respect to Mazda. They didn’t have a booth this year or any formal presence as far as I could tell. I’m curious why Mazda did not participate. No matter the reason, it made for a less interesting show. Ford did an excellent job this year. You might expect this since they were the headline sponsor, but I was surprised. Their effort to appear as a financially strong domestic brand, separated from the troubles of GM & Chrysler, was enhanced by this strong showing.

I didn’t observe any substantial emerging trends in compact performance. Aside from the consumer electronics side of things, none of the new products really stood apart from the crowd. On the marketing side of things one clear trend has emerged in the larger industry, nostalgia based marketing. It’s based on capturing those warm feelings we have of when life was simpler and using them to motivate us to buy cars or upgrades for them. Or perhaps, if you buy a car that looks like your pops or some parts from a company that existed when he was a younger man, you’ll rekindle that connection you had as a young child when your father was working on his car in the garage. That’s the idea anyway.

We shut down our shop so that most of our staff could check out the show. What did we learn? Plenty. The seminars can be a great way to add tools to your toolbox. If you go to next years show, take some time out to rest your feet, and attend a seminar. We attended all sorts of seminars. One important point I recall from a seminar is that the brand paradigm has shifted. We no longer own the CorkSport brand. We share it with you. Out there in cyberspace, you do as much to build our brand as we do, perhaps more. This idea perfectly encapsulates how we approach things here. Check out this helpful tipbook, it is worth a look if you plan to go to SEMA next year.

We also learned from exhibitors. They are generally very willing to help and will give surprisingly revealing answers if asked the right questions. Some of the vendors participate in the seminars. This gives even more insight into the inner workings of those companies.

We took time everyday to reflect on the show as a group and record our ideas. As such, we took home lots of great ideas. Everyone loves video, we’ve already got a bunch of them here, and here . We got some great tips on how to make better videos and where to put them to make sure the most people see them.

How about our website? Are you finding what you’re looking for? We’ve largely received positive feedback on the redesign of our site. We learned about new tools to help us make sure you can find what you’re looking for.

We found several innovations in MAF sensors and manipulation of their signals to allow for customization. More and more cars come with these sensors now. As we push our MZR motor well past the 300 HP level, we’ll likely incorporate some new MA configurations. If successful, you’ll see these as new CS products next year.

The list goes on and on. We hit the show with a plan. We checked out the show as enthusiasts, learned some things about the industry and techniques to serve you better, and took home a long list of follow-ups. Whether you are a lifestyle enthusiast or performance enthusiast we think you’ll enjoy a trip to Las Vegas next year for the 2010 SEMA show. We’ll see you there.

– Jason

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