Reinventing Car Shows

Autosphere » Dealerships » Reinventing Car Shows
Charles Drouin is Chief Executive Officer of Mobilis Corporation, which includes some 145 dealerships in the greater Quebec City area. Photo Mobilis Corporation

At a time when consumers are visiting car dealerships less and less frequently, car shows need to redefine themselves and help generate the passion to buy a new car.

During the pandemic, automakers forcibly withdrew from the Canadian Auto Shows in favor of digital promotional tools. Manufacturers’ websites have become showcases for their new models, and in this respect, they have spared no expense.

While the pandemic seems a thing of the past, manufacturers have remained reluctant to return to our shows. And this situation is deplorable in my eyes.

Consumers shopping for a new vehicle have significantly reduced the number of times they visit dealerships. From more than six visits before the decision was made, the number of visits to our vehicle sales professionals has dropped to just two.

I’d like to think that people will gather a lot of information on manufacturers’ and dealers’ websites to narrow down their choices, especially since dealers are well aware that the potential customer who walks through their doors often arrives with a wealth of knowledge. However this meeting can only be transactional. The purchase of a new vehicle, a major investment for households, must also be driven by emotion.

Goodbye web, hello emotion

That’s why it’s so important for me and my fellow show managers to present our communities with Auto Shows that are more than just static showcases of vehicles. A case in point is the Quebec City Auto Show, which this spring will bring together manufacturers and dealers in a festive, family-friendly setting, with a host of activities designed to stir the emotions.

Auto Shows need to regain their essential role in supporting purchasing decisions. The figures speak for themselves. You’d think that the Millenials—the 27 to 43 year-olds—would have no interest in visiting car shows, since they get all the information they need from the Internet. And yet, more than a third of the visitors to the last edition of our show were representatives of Generation Y!

Carmakers will have to realize that their presence at our shows has more impact on the buying process than any campaign on the Web.

I’d also like to call on our dealers to continue to work closely with the communities they serve. They have comprehensive lists of current and potential customers in their hands, which they can follow up with special activities. As inventories fill up and the economic climate darkens, it’s high time we revitalized our sector by investing in our core strength: sharing our passion for cars. And a car show is certainly the ideal place to convey this emotion.


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