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Sirius XM Looks to Used Market for Growth in Next Decade

Satellite radio launched a mere decade ago. Now, there are 50 million satellite enabled vehicles on the road today, according to SiriusXM's chief financial officer David Frear.

The CFO explained that the "next phase" for the company's future will be capitalizing on "when those (new) cars start to turn over into the used market."

Earlier this month, during the Piper Jaffray Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference in New York Frear touched on how the radio company is looking to the used-car buyer and dealer in the next stage of business development and growth.

"The next 10 years is going to be about access to the previously owned car buyer," Frear began.

The executive also touched on why this market is such a "gold mine" in the automotive industry.

Frear continued, "80 percent of the households in the country have a previously owned car in them, and 70 percent of the cars sold in the country ever year are previously owned vehicles."

He also explained that Sirius hasn't "tapped" into the used market during its decade-long "long period."

"I think it is going to be quite a growth story in the next 10 years," he added.

But, there is one caveat. Used cars are much harder to track than new, with private sales and independent dealer sales making it more difficult to come up with solid numbers.

When asked about this very topic during the conference presentation, Frear responded, "We are trying to capture as much information as we can, so in gathering that information, we have deals with the automakers for their certified pre-owned programs, but that's probably only about 5 percent of the car sales any given year."

To help remedy this problem, SiriusXM signed up for a data exchange program through a subsidiary of ADP called Digital Motorworks, "and they have sales reporting systems at a lot of auto dealers," Frear said.

Now, SiriusXM has more than 8,000 dealers that have signed up and send the satelite radio company their sales transactions. In turn, SiriusXM offers dealers a 90-day free trial for dealer customers.

This is beginning to generate a lot of what Frear coined 'hot leads.'

"You want to know who bought the car, and you then want to put them through what has been a very proven direct marketing methodology that we have been employing in the new-car segment and want to roll it out to used cars," he explained, adding that the sales data provided by dealers are helping the company to achieve this process.

Frear was also asked during the presentation about some of the big differences in marketing in the used-versus new-car world. Are the turn-over rates different? Are the customers different?

Frear noted the one big difference, which highlights just how much the used-car market could boost SiriusXM business in the near future.

"The big difference is we subsidize the installation of the equipment once in the life of the car, there is no subsidy that goes along with the radio after that," he continued.

"So every time you are able to capture a subscription from a vehicle we have already installed a radio in, you are monetizing on that investment better each time."

A Boon to Dealers

While the company moves more into the used market, it is beginning to present dealers and CPO OEM programs with offerings such as three-month trial subscriptions for customers.

Partnerships like this offer dealers another selling point on the lots.

And during the past couple of years, SiriusXM has expanded its presence in the CPO market significantly, adding partnerships with Kia and Hyundai, Nissan and Infiniti, and Toyota's CPO program, to name a few.

For Toyota, in early 2012, Auto Remarketing reported that buyers of either a Toyota certified model or a Scion certified unit equipped with a SiriusXM radio would receive a three-month trial subscription to satellite radio and available SiriusXM services.

In late March of last year, when the news was announced, Dave Depew, former corporate fleet manager at TMS, said, "Giving our customers SiriusXM for three months adds value to our certified used-vehicle program.

"It gives our certified used vehicle customers the opportunity to experience services from SiriusXM that enhance the experience of driving Toyota vehicles equipped with easy-to-use, state-of-the-art products such as satellite radio," Depew continued.

And the radio company has founded numerous partnerships throughout the industry similar to this one.

SiriusXM is also making moves within the used-car operations of dealer groups, notching partnerships with Penske Automotive Group, Asbury Automotive Group, AutoNation, Hendrick Automotive Group, and more.

Just last fall, Hendrick announced a partnership with Sirius XM Radio that offered service subscriptions to those purchasing pre-owned vehicles with factory-equipped satellite radio. This deal included a three-month SiriusXM subscription deal similar to the partnership with Toyota CPO.

In September, at the time of the announcement, Rick Hendrick, chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group and owner of NASCAR's Hendrick Motorsports said, "I've been a SiriusXM listener for years. I'm a big fan of E Street Radio and of course, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. So it's exciting that our dealerships and Hendrickcars.com will be able to give our pre-owned customers SiriusXM. It's a terrific service for people who love great radio content, from sports and news to music and entertainment."

The jury is in. SiriusXM's expansion into the used market seems to not only benefit the radio company, but also the dealers and programs it is reaching.