American Marketer


Auto shows gain in popularity with younger consumers: report

March 31, 2017

NY Auto Show


The automotive show is making a comeback in a big way now that millennials are increasing their participation, causing a 57 percent rise in attendance within four years, according to a new report by Foresight Research.

While millennials are perceived to be preoccupied with digital devices and have shorter attention spans causing a low interest in events such as auto shows, new research is showing the opposite. A new report from Foresight Research shows that younger consumers are interested in events, and auto shows provide an activity while also being informative.

"The growth of attendance at auto shows has increased 57 percent in the past four years," said Steve Bruyn, CEO of Foresight Research, Detroit. "Today nearly one in four new car intenders attend an auto show as part of their shopping experience for a new car or truck.

"The reason for this huge increase is the fact that younger people have returned to the market," he said. "Millennials, who many believe are more interested in their cell phones than new cars, have returned to the new car market in big numbers.

"Well guess what, younger people like events, going out for the day, and do not have prior experience with new car brands."

Forseight Research looked into 57 auto shows in 50 markets with a total sample of 15,711 surveys for the report.

Auto show importance
Auto shows are more than just an event and can provide an ideal shopping experience that goes beyond the dealership. The auto show is an event that mixes fun with purchase possibilities.

2015 Los Angeles Auto Show - Getty Images

During last year’s season that closed at the end of 2016, three out of four attendees were interested in purchasing a new vehicle in the upcoming year. This equates to 4 million households or 6 million people.

The average time a participant spent at an auto show last year was about 3.5 hours.

This is crucial time for a brand to solidify a positive image and entice consumers to buy its brand in the future.

Classic automobile show

Foresight’s report for the previous auto show season showed that one out of four consumers intending on purchasing a vehicle within the year made up their mind after a show.

Automotive brands and shows
British automaker McLaren Automotive attempted to tap into the benefits of the auto show, hoping to overshadow its competitors at the Geneva Motor Show with models old and new.

The high-performance vehicle manufacturer was moved to a new location with a stand that showcased the entire range of its vehicles. The Geneva Motor Show is a haven for automotive news, but a range of models could help McLaren capture a larger share of eyeballs and consumer interest (see more).

While auto shows are important for customer purchase decisions, dealerships are always a vital platform.

The buy-and-sell market for auto dealerships has been slow these past few years, but 2017 is poised to see an exponential increase, while Mercedes-Benz is one of the most sought-after for dealership purchases.

A quarterly from Kerrigan shows that the buyer/seller marketplace for automotive dealerships will see a significant lift this year due to a variety of factors such as the current White House administration, acquisition increase and a jump in valuation. Mercedes will likely benefit from this growth, as it was the volume leader in luxury dealership purchases this past year (see more).

"[Millennials] are using the auto show to research their decision and have a good time doing it," Foresight Research's Mr. Bruyn said. "That is great news for the auto companies as well as the customer. Get the facts, look at a wide variety of new products under one roof and have a fun day with friends and family.

"And, oh by the way, the luxury branded autos are the models getting much of the attention," he said.