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Real Research recently mobilised a field team to conduct a survey into a 1 200 sample of Motor Body Repairers (MBR) in South Africa. The survey asked about refinish brands used in the respondent’s shops, repair throughput, brand satisfaction and a general commentary on the state of the refinish market in South Africa. Information was captured into Excel, the master database was geo-coded and survey results were analysed. The key reason for the study was to provide a line of sight into the refinish market in South Africa and identify possible opportunities that may exist for existing brands or new brands in the refinish market. Justin Swanepoel of Real Research believes: “We were not expecting such a high response rate (72%) so we are confident that our results reflect the market, albeit anecdotal responses. The entire 1 200 universe of MBR, including manufacturer and insurance approvals was mapped and research insights were linked to each geo-point, hence we have a workable Excel database for any MBR supplier wanting to grow or enter the South African market, which ties in precisely with our company tag-line “Where to Play, How to Win”. 

The refinish market was split into two segments, premium brands and value brands. For 2019, the study showed that the refinish market in South Africa is estimated to be worth 1 641 billion Rand (this could be even larger as the total MBR universe is larger). The premium brands represent most of the market with a 1.1 billion stake and the value brands representing the balance. Interestingly, the MBR had noticed a major shift from premium to value brands, based on price pressures and the increase in quality from the value brands. Swanepoel says: “With over 85% of the car parc being out of warranty and the current down-turn of new vehicle sales, there is a massive opportunity for the value brand segment. We noticed an increase of value brands from the same stable as the premium brands (parent company), which confirmed the importance of the value segment to existing global refinish brands”. 

The top 10 refinish items identified by the MBR were – in order of importance:

  1. Provision of high-quality paint with efficient application processes, quick drying, good colour matching, high gloss and coverage.
  2. Representation of the refinish brand at manufacturer, insurer and MBR group level to align pricing and scope of work.
  3. More frequent refinish application training, not only at group venues, but also on company premises.
  4. Requirement for a one-stop supplier of paint and consumables.
  5. Lack of control of value brands being used on in-warranty vehicles – cost of premium versus value brand set-up.
  6. More strategic business advice on how to effectively manage MBR, paint spend and staff. 
  7. Better hands-on service and more frequent marketing and advertising material from the refinish brands.
  8. Concern on the shrinking of the skilled spray painter work force and no transfer of these skills.
  9. Increase in dual/triple banking of brands at the MBR, which is cannibalising refinish brand image and loyalty.
  10. The reduction of accidents due to accident avoidance systems and share-ride services (Uber).

Swanepoel also believes: “The real meat of this project is the raw data file, linked to the geo-points, the refinish brands, the MBR throughput and the brand satisfaction indexes. This equips potential refinish brands (or other MBR products) to identify low hanging fruit and target specific areas with their product or sales teams.”

In closing, Swanepoel firmly reckons “The refinish market is highly competitive and MBR can change refinish brands a few times in as many months. Pricing and quality will always be important, but there is increased pressure for superior customer service and consulting. The refinish brands that will grow in this tight economy, will be the brands that offer best-in-class price/quality/service, have a robust route to market strategy, are able to represent the MBR at manufacturer, insurance and group levels and lastly, are hungry for new business, no matter the size of the client.”

Real Research is an insight consultancy that specialises in competitive research intelligence in various market segments. Real Research managing director, Justin Swanepoel, has been operating very closely to the motor body repair (MBR) industry since 2005. Justin created Real Research and has over the past six years conducted many ad hoc research projects for leading refinish brands, manufacturers, MBR and motor dealerships. Combining more than 15 years’ experience in the MBR industry, Real Research understands the industry more than most agencies. 

If you have a product you want to bring or thinking of bringing to the South African or African market, Real Research and their strategic partners have a direct line-of-sight into many industries and can assist you on “Where to Play and How to Win”. www.realresearch.co.za or surveys@realresearch.co.za

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