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Why the weekend tradition of car waxing has been waning

Changing markets, younger generations force new strategies

Decreases in demand, small competitive boutiques, and new market-altering technologies have knocked traditional car care companies on their heels. As the consumer audience has shifted in both demographic and attitude, the industry has been forced to try to keep up by adopting new marketing strategies, introducing new products, and informing a completely different generation. But is it working?

In a piece titled, "A Generation Gap in Car Wax," The New York Times dives into the topic of car wax and how the industry surrounding the product has changed throughout the past 15 to 20 years. Much of the article conjectures that millennials who view vehicles as unattached appliances rather than prized possessions are to blame, but it's a lot more complex than that. 

According to the article, RJ de Vera, Meguiar’s global customer engagement leader, said he noticed a decrease in demand in 2007. Kelly Cagney, director of global brand strategy and marketing communications for Turtle Wax, says she noticed a downturn in 2013. During this time, wax companies say they have noticed an increasing divide between those who want instant-gratification sprays and quick applications to those who want old-school waxes that take real time, attention and care. This forced companies to create two marketing strategies to reach two audiences, with much of the time and resources going to quick-job mass-market products. 

"The reality is you run out of money really, really quick if you are going for the mass market,” Mr. de Vera said. To find new customers, wax companies are placing ads in previously unheard of places such as social media, video games and with online "influencers." 

Turtle Wax and Meguiar's have also been undercut by small personality- and brand-driven boutiques who can sell product directly online. Cost of startup is smaller, cost of operation is smaller, and social media makes marketing cheaper than ever. They've also been hurt by the increasing obsolescence of wax in favor of longer-lasting ceramic coatings. 

Read more about these challenges and how companies are responding by visiting the full article at The New York Times.

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