Research Report: Trends in Window Film and PPF

Window film companies know that business is booming—because many shops are as busier as ever. The data bears that out as well, even though research shows that consumer sentiment still has some recovering to do. Nick St. Denis, director of research at Key Media & Research (WINDOW FILM magazine’s parent company), discussed demand and trends in the window film and paint protection film market during a recent presentation held during the International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™.

St. Denis noted that consumer sentiment in the U.S., according to the University of Michigan’s longstanding survey of consumers, in the second and third quarters of 2020 was at its lowest point in nearly a decade.

“Consumer sentiment is a strong indicator to look at regarding aftermarket accessories and alterations to vehicles, as well as improvements to a home or building,” he said. “When consumers are comfortable with their financial standing and the economy in general, they’re more likely to spend on discretionary things such as PPF for their vehicle or window film on their home.”

The Index of Consumer Sentiment, which measures this, has partially recovered as of the second quarter of 2021 but still has a ways to go.

Fortunately, several other indicators closer to the industry—including personal consumption expenditures of motor vehicles and parts, as well as retail sales of automotive parts and accessories—have been booming since late 2020 and through the first quarter of 2021. Additionally, new vehicles sales have improved to start the year.

St. Denis discussed data related to residential improvements. He said that despite the economic downturn last year due to the pandemic, homeowner improvements and repairs remained strong throughout 2020, improving nearly 6% year-over-year with a similar expected increase in the year ahead. This, he said, is a good sign for architectural window film.

St. Denis wrapped up the session discussing some anecdotes from articles and qualitative research by KMR and Window Film magazine, looking back at the pandemic’s impact. “For many dealers in the industry, elevated sales in the first quarter of 2020 and a rebound in the third and fourth helped offset the downturn that mainly impacted the second quarter,” he said. “But those in areas with stricter restrictions had a more difficult time making up for losses.”

Some dealers also reported an uptick in demand due to nearby competitors shutting down. “There was a general increase in residential work with people working from home, he said. “And businesses also took the opportunity to upgrade with window film while employees were away.”

Looking ahead, a rise in sales of vehicle accessories and residential improvements should bode well for window film, and continued increase in consumer awareness along with an increase in new car sales provides opportunity in PPF.

“Security film for downtown businesses may be a strong prospect for dealers moving forward,” he added.

Growing Your Business Through Manufacturer Relationships and PPF

One of the afternoon talks at the International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) featured Steve Pesce speaking on “Growing Your Manufacturer Relationships.” Pesce founded his company, New York Window Film, in 1990.

Steve Pesce grew his business by asking for help from his supplier.

Pesce opened by explaining to the audience how he got started in the industry almost 30 years ago. When he first started out, Pesce he said he had nothing more than a phone, an old computer, a laser printer and a reliable supplier. What he didn’t know at the time was that his supplier would become his staunchest ally in the industry.

One day, on a whim, Pesce asked his supplier representative if there was anything he could do to help grow his business. The representative answered that he wasn’t sure, but he could help him do cold calls. This was the beginning of a partnership that helped them both. If Pesce had customers, then his supplier had customers as well.

Pesce soon realized he could ask more than just his supplier for help. Between word of mouth and mailing out advertisements, Pesce’s company grew within one year.

He didn’t only ask his supplier for help, he also extended the invitation to anyone he could. He received help from many businesses looking to do the same thing he was: getting the word out about the industry.

Pesce explained that co-op money was another critical factor that had helped him. This has allowed him to advertise relatively cheaply, and also made him some allies along the way.

Another Thursday WFCT presentation was “Profit from the Power of PPF” given by PremiumShield’s Jamie Werner. “You need to find someone who can sell your product. You have to sell it,” Werner said.

That was just one of his many helpful tips on selling paint protection film (PPF). “You have to be willing to talk about it and educate the consumer about it,” he said.

And not just talk about it: “You have to promote the crap out of it,” he said. “You have to promote through all platforms. If you don’t know how to do it, pay someone or find someone who can.”

Being successful with PPF requires a lot of effort. “If you don’t put time and effort and money into it you won’t be successful,” said Werner. “Invest in training. Do a few free jobs. That will be a win-win.”

“Newer cars mean bigger profits,” he said. “The majority of time they are spending a lot of money on a car so they will want to protect it. And most of the time people looking at PPF are looking for other products. So now you have an opportunity to sell those other products like film and increase your overall ticket price.”

WFCT runs through Saturday at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Stay tuned for the latest from the event.