57% of Auto Show Attendees Plan to Buy New Vehicles

More than half of auto show goers who bought vehicles after attending the events say the shows influenced their purchase decisions, according to a new study commissioned by Auto Shows of North America. The new study confirms what auto dealer groups have suspected for years.

For decades, auto dealer groups across the United States and Canada have made the case that the annual events they host ‰ÛÒ Auto Shows ‰ÛÒ are among the most effective ways to reach the car-​buying public, offering what amounts to a one-stop,åÊpre-shopping experience before they make a trip to a dealership.

While that argument has been largely based on anecdotal evidence, with dealers telling stories about a spike in traffic in the days and weeks following an event, a formal research study is now confirming the strong link between attendance at an auto show and the likelihood of a new vehicle purchase.

The study ‰ÛÒ "The Power of Auto Shows" ‰ÛÒ was commissioned by Auto Shows of North America, a group of 65 auto shows from around the United States and Canada, and released today. ASNA members are meeting this week for their regular summer conference, a two-​day event being held this year at the historic Dearborn Inn.

Prepared by Foresight Research, a firm that counts several automakers among its clientele, the study makes what ASNA Chairman Lou Vitantonio calls "unassailable evidence" of the link between auto shows and actual vehicle sales in various markets.

Vitantonio, who is also executive director of the Greater Cleveland Auto Dealers Association and the Cleveland Auto Show, said the study showed a correlation between people who attended an auto show and the likelihood they would buy a new vehicle at some point in the 12 months following the event.

For example, some 57% of those attending an auto show say they intend to purchase or lease a vehicle within 12 months. More than half also said an auto show influenced their decision to buy.

"Auto shows, large or small, provide a unique opportunity for consumers to see virtually every brand available in a market," said Vitantonio. "It's an incredibly effective and efficient way for consumers to do their market research prior to making a purchase."

While the Foresight Research study shows a strong correlation between auto show attendance and vehicle registrations, it also reveals how attendance can translate into word of mouth influence and how likely it is for an individual display to lead to the purchase of a particular brand.

The study confirms several key points, specifically that auto shows:

  • Attract, educate and motivate shoppers to visit new car and truck dealerships
  • Generate action long after the conclusion of an auto show
  • Provide deep engagement with vehicle brands and are pivotal to brand decisions for many buyers
  • Dovetail with digital marketing efforts as well as broadcast to assist consumers in their vehicle purchase decision

Vitantonio points to the ability of auto shows to captivate future customers as being key to the ultimate buying process.

"Auto shows captivate people," he said. "They educate, entertain and amaze. Consumers know they can see a wide variety of new vehicle technologies, including those that will make them safer on the road, be kinder to the environment and provide them with a more entertaining experience. Plus, all of these can be found under one roof."

Key Findings: The Power of Auto Shows

Auto Shows Influence Opinions and Decisions

  • 57% of attendees say they are in the market to buy a car or truck in the 12 months after the show
  • 51% of attendees who purchased new vehicles post show said the show influenced their decision
  • Over one-​third of attendees made brand list choices ‰ÛÒ 32% added and 14% subtracted brands on their purchase consideration as a result of their visit

Auto Shows Generate Long Term Action, Have Impact Well After They Close

  • Word of Mouth Influencers ‰ÛÒ 1 in 4 buyers gave advice to six or more people about vehicles and spreading the word to non-attendees
  • Purchase Influence ‰ÛÒ even 12-​months later, auto shows influence purchases: 
    • 72% of visitors said they plan to visit a manufacturer's website
    • 53% planned a visit to a dealer showroom

    Consumer Engagement, Brand Decisions, Awareness

    • 54% of display visitors improved purchase likelihood after visiting a display
    • On average, consumers spend 3.5 hours at an auto show
    • 70% of consumers who were influenced by an auto show talked to product specialists in displays where they are considering the brand
    • 47% of display visitors used interactive terminals

    Auto Show Attendance Drivers

    • 75% attend because they want to see new vehicles and because shows are fun and entertaining
    • 56% attend to compare vehicles and shop before a dealer visit
    • 44% attend to learn about new vehicle technology
    • One out of five intender households in an average market attend the auto show

    The Auto Show as a Marketing Tool

    • 55 years or younger: 
      • 49% of auto show-​influenced buyers are under 55
      • 42% of digital-​influenced buyers are under 55
      • 42% of TV-​influenced buyers are under 55
    • $100,000 or more income: 
      • 62% of auto show-​influenced buyers have $100k+income
      • 53% of digital-​influenced buyers have $100k+income
      • 49% of TV-​influenced buyers have $100k+income
    • Influencers:
      • 25% of auto show-​influenced buyers give advice to 6 or more people about autos
      • 18% of digital-​influenced buyers give advice to 6 or more people about autos
      • 14% of TV-​influenced buyers give advice to 6 or more people about autos
    • Digital Activity ‰ÛÒ 27% of auto show visitors frequently post/​blog product reviews online 
      • 84% of posts/​blog product reviews are positive

    Other Facts:

    • About 6 of 10 people rate the auto show experience as "excellent"
    • 26% of the 12-​month intenders left the show with their mind made up
    • The average attendee is nearly twice as likely to have a bachelor‰Ûªs degree or higher versus the local population
    • On average, 60% of attendees are men; 40% women
    • 32% of attendees are 18–34 years old
    • 3 out of 4 auto show attendees preplanned some, most or all of the displays they visited

    AudienceSCAN data revealed that 13.5% of consumers plan to attend auto shows in the next 12 months. They are 21% more likely than average consumers to have household incomes between $100,000 and $149,000. 19% of attendees currently own Fords. Your advertisers could try reaching them via Instagram ‰ÛÒ they are 39% more likely than average to participate on Instagram. 36% are planning to purchase new cars or trucks in the next 12 months! Also, in the past 30 days, 34% of attendees have taken action after receiving mobile smartphone app ads or text message ads.

    AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.