A Race To The Finish

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Auto aftermarket shines

Licensing in the automotive aftermarket speeds on with licensed goods totaling $6.6 billion, 13% of the industry's $57 billion in annual retail receipts. A year ago, licensed products accounted for 11.5% of category sales.

The demand for high performance parts and accessories and the increased retail/promotional activities of major sports brands is driving the business.

Accelerating the demand are such programs as NASCAR Your Car. The retail program, now in its second year, has grown to include more than 55,000 retail locations. In addition, NASCAR's licensed aftermarket business now extends to 34 brands in 32 product categories, the latest licensee being Jasper Engines and Transmission.

Newly extended licensing agreements between NASCAR and long-time partners 3M and Goodyear Belts and Hoses will help keep the program in gear.

Mega brand General Motors, with such names as Hummer and Saturn, continues to expand its service parts organization, reporting 25% increases in licensed accessories for 2001 and projecting gains to double by 2002.

Increasing retail growth/presence through shared audiences is key. Since 70% of antifreeze sales occur during the football season, the NFL recently partnered with Prestone for NFL-themed and team-specific designs on antifreeze/coolant and windshield fluid bottles. It also is holding a sweepstakes featuring NFL licensed goods.

Outside of the auto world, World Wrestling Federation's intercontinental champion "Kane" made a personal appearance at a recent Strauss Discount Auto store summer promotion with Castrol. The promo drew more than 1,000 WWF fans.

This year Chevrolet, Action Performance and Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes characters turned out to support Team Monte Carlo at the Richard International Raceway. More players are repositioning to take advantage of a growing market.

The National Hot Rod Association is seeking auto supplies licensees, and CART is working to prevent product overlap and maximize retail potential.

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