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Auto show draws from near, afar

March 16, 2012
An encouraging sign of a broadening base of auto enthusiasts: nearly 10 percent of attendees at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show were marking their first visit to the show. Also, about 25 percent of all 2012 attendees live outside Chicagoland, according to a study conducted by Foresight Research.
The Rochester, Mich.-based firm also found that 12-month purchase intenders populated the show in numbers more than three times greater than non 12-month intenders. The firm interviewed thousands of people at show and mailed surveys to more than 1,000 households in the Chicago metro area, to compare the data.
“The Foresight findings speak very well of the health and impact of our show,” said Dave Sloan, general manager of the Chicago Auto Show and president of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association.
“In just those initial pieces of data, we can see that our show has a broad appeal; that it is a strong motivator for consumers to translate their McCormick Place visit into a visit to a dealership; and that our reach is far more than just the local population.
“When 25 percent of show-goers come from outside our area, it also speaks volumes about Chicago’s appeal as a tourism destination.”
Sloan added: “There’s no argument that ours is the preeminent U.S. auto show. No other show has the undisputed king of convention centers in McCormick Place, and our audience of potential customers is not tied to any particular brand. And from the manufacturer side, we’re the ‘neutral Geneva’ show of the United States, with no geographic ties to manufacturers.”
Foresight Research’s full study of the 2012 Chicago Auto Show will be finalized in a few months. Other initial data showed that
• About two-thirds of attendees visit every year or every other year
• Visitors spend an average 2.9 hours to 3.8 hours at the show, depending on ride-and-drive participation
• Attendees are more than twice as likely as general area residents to buy a new vehicle within three months
• 70 percent of attendees added a brand to their consideration list, as a result of their auto show visit
• Attendees are 10 times more likely than are general area residents who don’t attend to influence 16 or more people annually
“Sales numbers for our local dealers were strong before the show,” said Steve Foley Jr., chairman of the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.
“But the strong bounce we get every year from the show appears to be even stronger this year. From my conversations with other CATA directors, colleagues and friends in the business, the show performed its function exceedingly well—and they’re seeing results in their dealerships.
“That translates to more sales for the dealer and better deals for the consumer. It’s why this show has worked as well as it has for more than a century.”