Over the past few years, we’ve seen a significant decline in attendance at auto shows, which raises the question of whether auto shows are still relevant today. On today’s Inside Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome back Tim Jackson, the Former President and CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, to give us his perspective on auto shows.
The lack of participation
Jackson believes that auto shows are more pertinent and vital today than ever before. Now that inventory is returning to dealers’ lots and the world is no longer under COVID restrictions, “Consumers are coming back to auto shows in record numbers,” asserts Jackson. According to Jackson, “Auto shows date back to New York’s first show in 1990, Chicago in 1901, Denver in 1902, and Las Angeles and Detroit in 1907.” However, it’s important to highlight that in the decade between 2010 and 2020, there was the largest audience attendance in history.
However, since the world shut down, manufacturers have been on the fence about returning to the auto show scene. Jackson claims, “I think those manufacturers making decisions regarding its marketing departments may not be looking at the entire value of the shows. They may not be out in the trenches themselves witnessing the impact auto shows have.”
According to the newly released data from Foresight Research out of Detroit:
- In the last year, one in four consumers who attended an auto show would be considered in the market to buy for the previous buying cycle.
- Looking forward, three out of four attendees are in the market to buy a car for the following year.
If manufacturers neglect to participate in auto shows, which are seen as a one-stop-shop for consumers, they may be removing themselves from the shoppers’ list altogether.
According to Jackson, “I believe the U.S. is well-equipped to maneuver OEMs not participating in auto shows; however, international countries could sometimes struggle from not having enough OEM presence.” For example, if you went to the Tokyo Auto Show in Japan or the Paris auto show in France, all the vehicles are part of hometown manufacturers. “The point is, “We need to get back to having at least 33 brands at every auto show for the local market today,” Jackson notes. He continues, “However, I think the more brands you can offer, the more likely you’ll attract a larger attendance.”
Ultimately, most American consumers have never driven or even sat in an electric vehicle. This is why auto shows are imperative for modern consumers to obtain experience and get all of their questions answered by dealers or OEMs in person. Auto shows are the key to bringing experience, exposure, and connection opportunities.