Why do automakers no longer like salons?

DECRYPTION. Like others, the Geneva Motor Show 2020 will not be spared by the absence of certain manufacturers. What is it due to?

From show to show, the list of manufacturers present at these events becomes faster to make than the list of absent brands, which grows from year to year. The Geneva 2020 show which is about to open will be deserted by Peugeot, Citroën, Opel or even Nissan , and even Lamborghini (among others) while the Swiss gathering is traditionally the meeting place for manufacturers and fans of supercars. . Volvo had launched the movement while shouting at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. Since then, desertion has accelerated. But why ?

By cross-checking the justifications put forward by the manufacturers, it appears that a combination of factors pushes them to abandon traditional salons. The starting point is, as often, financial. Between the location of the site, the logistics and the staff, being present at a show is very expensive for a manufacturer. The stand alone costs several million euros, or even tens of millions if the brand wants to show off the image of German manufacturers in Frankfurt. However, the number of orders recorded on site is too low to make this investment profitable.

Communication modes have changed

Until recently, despite a short-term imbalance between the cost of a show and the number of sales signed on the stand for manufacturers, the latter still found in this type of event a vector of image allowing them to take advantage of the media exposure to make their latest models known to as many people as possible, which could lead potential customers to go to dealerships later. Brands could therefore count on commercial spinoffs in the following months. But that was before a new component of society entered the equation.

The decade of 2010 was that of the explosion of social networks, in terms of number and users. These websites and applications offer car manufacturers a new way of communicating, significantly less expensive than trade shows but also potentially more efficient. Day-to-day communication, community maintenance and targeted advertising are all tools to speak often and directly to the individuals we are trying to attract.

Finally, some brands now prefer to organize their own presentations so as not to be “drowned” in the media flow of trade fairs and be sure to have a certain visibility.

A recipe that no longer makes a recipe?

Large international fairs also seem to suffer from a model that no longer appeals to the public. Whether it is a cause or a consequence of the scarcity of builders, these exhibitions show a continuous decline in attendance while events with different organization and target, such as the Goodwood Festival Of Speed or the International Automobile Festival, see their popularity increase year by year on the side of visitors as exhibitors. Among other features, they are smaller than salons, allow you to get close to exceptional cars or even see vehicles in action. Another indicator that the size of historic high masses plays against them, the classic “human-sized” trade shows such as that of Brussels , more modest in terms of scale and significantly less expensive for manufacturers, always attract public and brands.

How to revitalize car shows? 

Far from sitting idly by, the organizers of traditional fairs are experimenting with formula changes in an attempt to launch a new dynamic: the  NAIAS in Detroit changes dates, the  IAA in Frankfurt changes location, the  Mondial de Paris changes concept. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to give them a new boost of attractiveness.

Are you attracted to trade fairs? Do you think they need to change? Do you prefer other types of events? Tell us everything in the comments!