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Service Spending Led 2021 Auto Trends

After a year of staycations, remote work, and eating in, Americans were ready to hit the road in 2021. By August, the number of miles driven had almost reached pre-pandemic levels, and in some states, even exceeded it. For most drivers, that meant spending more on maintenance and repairs to keep their current cars running smoothly as new cars were in short supply— great news for the auto parts and service industry.  
 
Cardlytics’ purchase insights uncovered some interesting trends in the auto parts and service category that can help guide auto marketers’ growth strategy for 2022.  

Let’s dive in.  

Double-digit increases were seen in auto parts and service spend 

While the number of customers spending on auto parts and services declined slightly in 2021, spending per customer increased by more than 16%. Average order value (AOV), or the average dollar amount a customer spends each time they make a purchase, was up nearly 13%, and customers made 3% more trips compared to 2020.  

These auto trends are likely to continue well into 2022 and beyond. New car inventory is down, thanks to chip shortages, which is expected to continue through 2023. For motorists returning to their pre-pandemic driving habits, that’s a strong incentive to keep up with regular service and repairs to extend the life of their current cars.  

Auto parts spend shows continued growth 

Spending on auto parts was up 8% year-over-year (YoY), driven primarily by AOV. Inflation and supply chain woes account for some of the increase, but customer trips rose by nearly 4%, suggesting drivers are staying on top of preventive maintenance and repairs.  

While both multichannel and online-only auto parts spend increased in 2021, multichannel retailers did slightly better, thanks to stronger customer retention. Consumers may be getting oversaturated with online-only auto brands, as these brands saw nearly 7% fewer customers YoY, while multichannel brands only experienced a 0.6% customer decline.  Online-only consumer spend grew 11.9%, led by a 10.2% AOV increase. However, due to a decrease in customer count from 2020, total online-only auto parts spend was up 4% YoY. Meanwhile, multichannel’s 9.2% growth was driven by an AOV gain of 6.9%. 

Multichannel auto parts retailers who win the loyalty of DIY mechanics are well-positioned to see even greater gains in 2022 if market conditions persist. 

Dealership growth leads auto service trends 

Spending on auto service grew 18% YoY in 2021, but growth wasn’t equally spread between dealerships and third-party service brands. Dealership service spending was up 21% overall, compared to just 13% for third-party brands.  

  • Customer count was also up 0.4%, but lagged the growth experienced by dealership service centers.

The big story then is that dealerships appear to represent a safe and trusted place for hands-off owners to service and repair their cars.  

So, how can the industry capitalize on auto trends? 

The $115 billion auto parts and service market is poised for growth in 2022 and beyond. Auto brands that effectively segment and target customers based on their unique needs and spend patterns are better positioned for growth.  

For auto parts and service brands looking to drive sales as share of spend shifts in 2022, segmenting and targeting your best customers with the right offers and product mix is the key to success.  

With our purchase insights, Cardlytics identifies the customers most inclined to spend on auto parts and service and engages them with targeted offers through their trusted bank channels. Contact us today to learn how partnering with Cardlytics can help you leverage auto industry trends and jumpstart growth. 

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