Digital marketing remains the most impactful automotive marketing channel overall, influencing more new car and truck buyers than 12 other channels in the auto marketers’ toolbox, according to a new study by Michigan-based Foresight Research
. However, digital’s dominant position is rooted in its wider reach rather than its effectiveness; the study reveals that auto shows are actually as effective as digital in influencing buyers’ purchase decisions among buyers engaged with each activity.
Based on surveys with 5,500 recent U.S. new car and truck buyers, Foresight’s 2017 Auto Show Immersion Report found three times as many buyers had read digital auto content prior to their purchase as attended an auto show in the same period. But comparing those two groups, auto show attendees were just as often influenced by their show experience as digital users were by the digital content they consumed.
“This underscores the power auto shows bring to the marketing mix,” said Christopher Stommel
, president of Foresight Research. “When buyers attend an auto show, more than half are influenced by that experience during their subsequent purchase decisions. And if you can get them into a Ride and Drive while they are there, the show’s influence increases by nearly 30 percent.”
The study confirms that auto shows provide a highly desirable audience for marketers and that buyers attending auto shows:
Those buyers are:
- Younger, and 25 percent more often first-time new vehicle buyers
- More often luxury brand buyers
- Far more car-connected – using multiple automotive communications and participating heavily in experiential marketing
- An invaluable source of downstream word of mouth – advising twice as many other people about new cars and trucks they should consider, recommending their purchased brand twice as often and posting or blogging 75 percent more often online about their new vehicle
Aside from entertainment value (which is also important), buyers are motivated to attend auto shows to see what’s new in the marketplace, said Stommel.
“Looking across metrics such as reasons for attendance, most important brand display elements, influential messages received from the show and many others, it is evident that auto shows influence buyers because that’s one of the few places outside the dealership where they can see and experience newly introduced production vehicles as well as concept cars,” he said.
“Properly executed, that show experience can pay handsome dividends to any brand.”
, who heads the Air Quality division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is signaling what may be a change of heart in how the regulator is prepared to work with automakers. The message, which came at this summer's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich., is somewhat of a reversal for Grundler, who said a year earlier that he was in favor of stricter standards enacted by the Obama Administration. Today, it's more about regulatory relief. "I think we have a convergence of interests here with the administration's focus on regulatory reform," he said, quoted by Paul Eisenstein of TheDetroitBureau.com
. The Trump Administration's willingness to consider a revision of Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards may not take root, however, given polling numbers released by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
that suggest Americans actually want tougher mandates.
U.S. consumers are likely to have a number of "affordable" long-range battery-electric vehicles to choose from, according to an article by Paul Eisenstein
. It appears to be the first surge in this type of range-capable vehicle, given the relatively restrictive range currently offered by major automakers. One example of an improved range vehicle is a remake of the Nissan Leaf, which will nearly double its range, offering at least 200 miles per charge. Eisenstein writes that virtually every major automaker is expected to have at least one long-range model in its showroom, many of them selling for under $40,000 as a base price.
Elio Motors, a venture that hopes to build a three-wheel, two-seat vehicle from a former GM plant in Shreveport, La., has delayed production until 2019, a year later than its most recent estimate. The target price of the vehicle, originally set at $6,800, is now $7,450. The $100-million to be raised in a new public offering will be used for working capital and general corporate purposes, including sales and marketing, product development and capital expenditures, the company said in its filing.
If Faraday Future
builds its FF91 battery-electric vehicle, it will most likely be at a former Pirelli tire plant in Hanford, California. The news follows a decision to cancel work at a $1-billion Nevada assembly plant. "This event represents a major step forward for the company," said Stefan Krause of Faraday Future, which went public in 2015. The FF91 is said to be its first production model. Serious financial challenges led to the firm abandoning the Nevada project, which lead to accusations that the company had acted improperly. "This is a Ponzi scheme," Nevada State Treasurer Dan Schwartz told Reuters news service. While Faraday Future has insisted that the plan to build in California is solid, skeptics remain unconvinced.
Industry observers say as many as 20 vehicle models could be disappearing in model year 2018, reflecting an industry trend away from passenger cars and toward SUVs, pickup trucks and other light duty vehicles. A story by Paul Eisenstein of TheDetroitBureau.com listed some 17 products that "for sure" won't be around in 2018. Eisenstein wrote that at least a few others, including the little Ford Fiesta and C-Max models could be cut, and General Motors "is reportedly reviewing six more entries that could be culled from its line-up in the near future, very possibly before the end of the 2018 model year."
ATAE Charles Henson
of the New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association says there are at least two reasons for a 20 percent bump in attendance at the most recent New Mexico International Auto Show.
One is a decision to offer complimentary admission throughout the show to children under the age of 12.
Previously, free admission was limited to Sunday.
'We didn't spend a single penny in radio. We were heavily into electronic billboards, which Adstrategies had recommended. We rolled the dice, which may have played a role overall.'
—ATAE Charles Henson.
"What we think happened was that in past years, people with kids would plan their visit on Sunday and then something happened and they didn't end up going at all," said Henson. "This year, if the thought came to them, it didn't matter which day they went, so they didn't put it off."
Another reason for the increase in attendance was a change in marketing.
"We didn't spend a single penny in radio," said Henson. "We were heavily into electronic billboards, which Adstrategies
had recommended. We rolled the dice, which may have played a role overall."
The marketing strategy focused on the appearance of Ford's new GT vehicle, which Henson said was a great draw.
"We concentrated all our live advertising on that, which was our biggest show highlight."
Attendees not only got the chance to see the upscale vehicle, but also had an opportunity to take part in as many as three Ride and Drives, sponsored by Ford, Fiat Chrysler, and Chevrolet.
The show also dropped its separate "luxury hall" in favor of mixing the vehicles together, which Henson said helped add a bit of variety in a show that just finished up its 14th year.
The show coincided with the recently completed renovation of the Albuquerque Convention Center.
A returning feature was a Kids Autobahn, featuring 10 battery powered vehicles that are purchased by the auto show and then "repurposed" by dealers who typically raffle them off to employees or preferred customers.
Profile: New Mexico International Auto Show
Most recent: April 21-23, 2017
Next year: April 20-22, 2018
Albuquerque Convention Center
125,000 square feet
$10, adults; $5, seniors, $5, military (with any DOD ID), $5, children (6-12), FREE, children 5 and under, and 12 and under on Family Day (Sunday).
Friday 12 noon-10 pm; Saturday 10 am-10 pm; Sunday 10 am-6 pm
Motor Trend Auto Shows
ATAE Charles Henson|
President and CEO, New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association
For organizers of this season's Atlanta International Auto Show, reaching out to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible continued to be a successful strategy.
As Betsy Griffin
, director of marketing for the show explained, that included the addition of a "Hero's Day," a first ever event that offered a half-price admission and parking to police, firefighters, veterans, and paramedics.
The special days also included one for seniors (Thursday of the show), and Friday's College Day, which featured appearances by the mascots from Georgia State
, Georgia Tech
and Kennesaw State
'We're very grateful for the news support in the Atlanta area.'
Griffin, who works with ATAE Shayne Wilson
in promoting the show, was able to arrange for local broadcasters to be featured as well, which was popular with attendees.
"We're very grateful for the news support in the Atlanta area," said Griffin, adding that Fox 5 Atlanta
even brought in a "service dog in training" that was a big hit at the show.
On the vehicle side, Kia brought in its Niro Triathlon
and the Sorento Ski Gondola
, two of its concepts.
Given that Atlanta is a keen sports town, the appearance of Kent Bazemore of the NBA Atlanta Hawks for an autograph signing session (presented by Kia) was a popular addition to the show.
On the social media front, Griffin said she organized, for the second year in a row, a contest that selected five daily winners and one grand prize winner based on photos posted online. Each daily winner received eight tickets to next year's show (a $96 value) as well as placement in next year's guide publication, with the grand winner receiving an additional $50 gift card.
"Being in next year's guide was really an additional perk for the winner," said Griffin, who joined the show staff after being trained by David Tribble
, who retired last year.
Adding to the dynamics of the show, Griffin was able to recruit interns from area college campuses, all of whom earned a letter of recommendation upon completion of their "tour of duty."
"One of the interns from last year said the experience helped her get a job," added Griffin.
Profile: Atlanta International Auto Show
Most recent: March 22-26, 2017
Next year: March 21-25, 2018
Georgia World Congress Center
500,000 square feet
Adults $12, Children (6-12) $6 (under 6 free)
Wed.-Thurs. noon-9 pm; Fri. noon-10 pm; Sat. 10 am-10 pm; Sun. 10 am-8 pm
Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association
ATAE Shayne Wilson|
Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association
In Austin, it's all about family.
ATAE Mike Marks
, who teams up with show manager Lauren Davis
for the three-day event, says creating an atmosphere that appeals to a wide cross-section is what has continued to drive attention in the state capital.
"It's really something where we put a lot of attention when we look at how the show comes together every year," said Davis.
That means having a variety of features that will appeal to just about everyone.
This year, one of the highlights centered on movie vehicles, with a replica of the Land Speeder from the Star Wars franchise and a fully functioning model of the iconic R2D2 robot, which was built on a golf cart.
"He was able to interact with the audience and even dance with them," said Marks.
Adding to the movie them was a replica of the Batmobile that thrilled audiences.
'We've just signed another five-year agreement with (Spectrum) and it's a relationship that has proven to be very beneficial.'
—ATAE Mike Marks.
There was also a good assortment of inflatable attractions and face painting, all with long lines.
Some four Ride and Drive features from Ford, Mazda Toyota and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were also well attended.
"We've already had requests for space next year for all those," said Davis.
That in itself may be a problem, given the fact that the convention center is pretty much taken up.
But as a side note, Marks said there is a proposal afloat that would see a municipal bond offering used to expand the facility, something the Austin Automobile Dealers Association is supporting.
Promotion of the show itself is helped with the ongoing partnership of Spectrum, the former Time-Warner cable provider, a relationship that continues to grow, says Marks.
"We've just signed another five-year agreement with them and it's a relationship that has proven to be very beneficial," he added.
Social media is also an area where the show has continued to mature, something Marks said he credits Spectrum for helping to achieve.
"They've really been a huge help in that area," he said.
Profile: Austin Auto Show
Most recent: March 24-26, 2017
Next year: April 20-22, 2018
Austin Convention Center
210,000 square feet
Adults, $8, Seniors & Military $6, Children under 12, FREE. Wednesday night general admission, $1.
Fri.-Sat., 10 am-8 pm; Sun., 10 am-6 pm.
Austin Auto Dealers Association
ATAE Michael T. Marks, Executive Director|
Austin Automobile Dealers Association
Auto show manager
In what can only be described as one of the most innovative ideas ever when it comes to auto shows, ATAE Tom Kwiatek
and the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association are poised to create a "win-win" at the Lehigh Valley Auto Show.
But first a little background to set up the story.
, a private school located in Bethlehem, has hosted the auto show since 1998, using an athletic field house supplemented with two rental tent structures that this year cost the dealer association about $175,000.
And space continues to be one of the scarcest resources facing Kwiatek and his team, who had just this year gone to a second tent.
It's here that a solution has emerged: the dealer association has offered to pay for a new 60,000-square-foot structure, complete with a heated passageway to connect with the existing 140,000-square-foot structure.
'Restoration people get excited about the sponsorship. We had 12 cars, including a 1959 Edsel Villager station, a 1965 AMC Javelin and a 1957 BMW Isetta. It was a big hit for us.'
—ATAE Tom Kwiatek.
If the proposal goes through, Lehigh University, which has about 7,000 students, will have a facility that they'll be able to use for field hockey and lacrosse, essentially a large "quonset-style" structure with cement pad and steel frame.
In return, the auto show will receive free rent for the next 20 years.
Having a second indoor facility for the show will largely eliminate some of the problems that have caused issues recently, including the 10 inches of snow that accumulated on tents a few days before this season's show.
While the snow was able to be removed in time, such has not always been the case.
But growth is the name of the game and Kwiatek's team rented a second tent this year, which helped accommodate Toyota (which took 33 percent more space) and Honda (adding 23 percent more). It also allowed organizers to increase the automotive marketplace, which features lenders and motorcycle exhibits.
New this year was a Ride and Drive involving the three-wheeled Can Am Spyder, which was provided with its own on-campus route and sponsorship through Trumbauer's, a local dealership.
The auto show also partnered with some 39 non-profits in allowing them to sell auto show tickets for entry on Thursday and Friday afternoon. The charities involved got to keep half the proceeds of those tickets. It was the third year for the "Charity Days" initiative.
Kwiatek and his team also partnered with the Morning Call
, a Bethlehem newspaper, in promoting its Thursday and Saturday section that featured "Classic Ride," a series of stories around distinctive vehicles and their owners.
"Restoration people get excited about the sponsorship," said Kwiatek. "We had 12 cars, including a 1959 Edsel Villager station wagon, a 1965 AMC Javelin and a 1957 BMW Isetta. It was a big hit for us."
Kwiatek was also happy with attendance this year, which was up 7 percent over last year.
"Saturday is always our busiest day, but surprisingly, it was the only day of the four-day show this year where we didn't set an attendance record."
Profile: Lehigh Valley Auto Show
Most recent: March 23-26, 2017
Next year: March 22-25, 2018
Lehigh University Athletic Campus Buildings
120,000 square feet
Adults (13 and over), $10; Seniors (65+); $7 Children (7-12) $7; Children 6 and under FREE.
Thurs.-Sat., 10 am-9 pm; Sun., 10 am-6 pm.
Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association
ATAE Tom Kwiatek|
Executive Director, Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association
(click on Auto Show icon)
With a goal of increasing the entertainment value of this year's Cincinnati Auto Expo, ATAE Charlie Howard said steady attendance and a doubling of the size of the "Dream Machine Boulevard" helped solidify the impact of a show that next year will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
It was 1988 when the show was "resurrected," having been in dormancy for a number of years.
Now independently produced by the Greater Cincinnati Automobile Dealers Association, the show also added an additional Ride and Drive, with Chevy, Ford and Toyota all being located in a central spot near the entrance to the show.
"The feedback was good," said Howard. "They liked being in the same spot, which gave them the exposure they needed and deserved. It also made it more convenient for our visitors."
'It worked out very well for us. We occupied space that was pretty much unused in the past, but dressing it up we were able to create some new energy there.'
—ATAE Charlie Howard, referring to a beer garden in Cincinnati.
Another new feature at the show was "Concourse on Fifth," a reference to the street that borders the main entrance.
In this display, show organizers reached out to the Cincinnati Film Commission
to feature various movies that were filmed in the city, with clips from those movies showing adjacent to the vehicles themselves.
Several local car clubs (including Mercedes-Benz Club of America and the British Car Club of Greater Cincinnati) were also showcased.
The University of Cincinnati's School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning
was also involved in the show, with work the students have done on various automotive interiors showcased.
Organizers also brought in a new "beer and wine garden" section that gave show goers an opportunity to take a break and relax, a concept that Howard said is likely to grow even bigger next year.
"It worked out very well for us," he said. "We occupied space that was pretty much unused in the past, but dressing it up we were able to create some new energy there."
Profile: Cincinnati Auto Expo
Most recent: February 8-12, 2017
Next year: February 7-11, 2018
Duke Energy Convention Center
200,000 square feet
Adults, $11; Children (13 and under), FREE. Two for one matinees on Thursday and Friday (11 am to 6 pm).
Wed., 5 pm-9 pm; Thurs., 11 am-8:30 pm; Fri., 11 am-9 pm; Sat., 10 am-9 pm; Sun., 11 am-5 pm.
Greater Cincinnati Automobile Dealers Association
ATAE Charlie Howard|
Executive Vice President
Greater Cincinnati Automobile Dealers Association
ATAE Brad McAreavy
, as he contemplates changes to the Rochester Auto Show, has the future in mind, and by that he means the upcoming generation of dealers that make up the association.
That includes a plan to gain new insights into promoting the show using the latest in social media strategy, something he hopes will reinvigorate the event.
This follows a dip in attendance, notably on Friday and Saturday, compared with past years.
'The next generation—sons and daughters of dealers—are where we'll be focusing some of our energy in developing a strategy."
—ATAE Brad McAreavy
And while historically, organizers have not tried to do anything special beyond showcasing the vehicles on display, there may be opportunity to engage in other ways.
"The next generation—sons and daughters of dealers—are where we'll be focusing some of our energy in developing a strategy," said McAreavy.
For this year's event, one highlight was the appearance of Acura's NSX, which McAreavy said was extremely popular.
Also featured was a high-end BMW model and "more high-end luxury sport vehicles than we've had for quite a while."
The show also capitalized on the popularity of classic vehicles by bringing in models from the local chapter of the Sports Car Club of America
, the Genesee Valley Kart Club
and the Corvette Club
There were also vehicles on display from STM Tuned
, which brought in a highly customized 2015 Lamborghini Huracan, a 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the Evo, and a red C5 Corvette.
Profile: Rochester Auto Show
Most recent: March 2-5, 2017
Next year: February 28-March 4, 2018
Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center
80,000 sq. ft.
Adults , $9; Seniors & Military, $6; Children under 12, $3; Children under 5, FREE
Thurs & Fri., noon to 10 pm; Saturday, 10 am to 10 pm; Sunday, 10am to 7pm
Rochester Automobile Dealers Association
Rochester Auto Show
Automotive Trade Association Executives
The Auto Show Report
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
ATAE Executive Director