DETROIT (March 29, 2010) — Hey, it's time for the New York auto show, which means some wag is bound to ask: Do auto shows help sell cars?
The correct answer: Yes.
An exhaustive study by Foresight Research Inc., of Rochester, Mich., shows there is a return on the investment it takes to exhibit vehicles.
Steven Bruyn, Foresight's CEO, and Ron Hein, its executive vice president, shared some of the results of their “2010 Auto Show Strategy Report” with me.
By the way, if their names sound familiar, it's because Messrs. Bruyn and Hein are industry veterans who were marketing gurus at Chrysler, then DaimlerChrysler.
The auto show study is based on interviews with about 8,500 nonfleet new-vehicle buyers to determine how consumers are influenced in their vehicle purchase decisions by 16 major marketing communication channels.
Foresight's report slices and dices the national data for at least the top 20 designated market areas. They asked consumers a lot of questions. The report has a lot of great charts and graphs showing who did what and why.
Foresight found that 39 percent of new-vehicle buyers across the country say they were greatly influenced by what they saw at an auto show in the 12 months before their purchase. Those consumers are engaged in the process—and they influence other buyers.
Boiling it down, Mr. Bruyn told me that auto shows “sold” about 500,000 of the 10.3 million new vehicles delivered last year. That count includes the influence of show attendees on others.
But Foresight's research also drills down to the local level.
For example, in the New York City market area, about a quarter of the 871,000 consumers who bought vehicles in the 2009 model year went to an auto show.
Foresight Research reports that in New York, auto shows—primarily the New York International Auto Show—directly influenced 49,000 vehicle purchasers during the 2009 model year.
What was that question about return on investment?
This Op-Ed column appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.