Chicago's Clout With Buyers Still Rules

It's no secret that auto shows work on a multitude of levels. If they didn't, the idea borne under Sam Miles, the Chicago Auto Show's first promoter, would be an idea long forgotten by the Windy City, not to mention the automotive industry. But what they learned quickly is that engaging potential consumers in a public show is a concept that informs, inspires and motivates people to take action.

Now-111 years after the first show was staged in Chicago's Coliseum-those same reactions remain valid and amplified, not only in the Windy City, but also around the world.

According to findings from the highly regarded Foresight Research:

  • More than three times as many 12-month intenders as non 12-month intenders came to the show
  • Attendees are twice as likely as general area residents to purchase a new vehicle within three months
  • Of total attendees, one quarter came from outside Chicagoland.

"The Foresight findings speak very well of the health and impact of our show," said Dave Sloan, general manager of the Chicago Auto Show. "In just those initial pieces of data we can see that our show has a broad appeal; is a strong motivator for consumers to translate their visit to McCormick Place to a visit to a dealership; and 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 destination for tourism."

"There's no argument that ours is the preeminent consumer show in the U.S.," Sloan added. "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.

While the full study will be finalized in the next few months, other initial data of note from Foresight showed that:

  • Approximately two-thirds of attendees come every year or every other year
  • Visitors spend 2.9 to 3.8 hours at the show (average), depending on ride/drive participation
  • Almost three quarters of attendees added a brand to their consideration list as a result of their auto show visit
  • Show attendees are 10 times more likely to influence 16 or more people each year than are general area residents who don't attend.

"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 Chicago Automobile Trade Association 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."

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