By Charlie Gilchrist, 2019 NADA chairman
If you want to explore the latest and greatest that the auto industry has to offer, then without a doubt your first stop should be a local auto show. Many elements of our industry are evolving due to advanced technology and ever-changing market conditions. But auto shows remain a beacon of influence because it’s where consumers can still touch and feel products across all segments and brands. It’s no coincidence that more than 11 million consumers are attending U.S. auto shows every year – with 68 percent of them planning a new-vehicle purchase within 12 months.
Sure, I proudly sell vehicles to the greater driving public, but I am also a consumer myself. Through the eyes of a buyer and as a Texan, there is nothing that excites me more than seeing the new 2020 Ford Explorer or the Mustang Shelby GT 500 on display, often for the very first time. An auto show is an amazing one-stop destination where people like me can get the first look at the best OEM’s have to offer, from redesigns of iconic models to a showcase of future offerings. Shows are also one of the few places where a brand’s style is personified by the vehicles in the annual line-up—and that style becomes congruent with a customer’s own lifestyle.
The greatest impact of an auto show, however, is that it exerts tremendous influence over a customer’s vehicle purchase consideration and it greatly promotes brand loyalty. In fact, the data continues to demonstrate that auto show attendees are consistently twice as likely to make a new-vehicle purchase within a year of visiting a show versus the general population. Many of the customers I’ve spoken with have expressed that attending a show makes them feel more confident and informed about a vehicle they’ve been waiting to purchase. Auto shows also have the advantage of strengthening relationships with loyal brand followers while at the same time introducing the public to new brands. In fact, 21 percent of attendees have purchased from a brand they’ve never considered before visiting an auto show.
My dealerships are located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I’m proud to say that the 2019 DFW Auto Show in Dallas was a huge success. The show’s Ride & Drive program, in particular, was sold out and it received participation from 13 OEMs. The DFW Show capitalized on its ability to showcase the latest technology which continues to be a changemaker in the selection of a new vehicle. At the Fort Worth Show, we will be adding educational booths which we think will be extremely beneficial for students and attendees who are curious about today’s technological advancements. I have no doubt that attendee numbers will continue to rise at my local auto show.
The reality is that there aren’t many places where consumers can get behind the wheel of multiple brands under one roof, get a personal experience and a glimpse into their driving future. I am an eager supporter and attendee of auto shows, and I hope you are too!