How Much Does the the Chicago Auto Show Impact Car Sales? [VIDEO]

Mark Bilek, Chicago Auto Show

Auto shows have been around for more than 100 years. The first, from what I understand was in Denver, Colorado. And the largest most attended auto show in the US these days is the Chicago Auto Show, a show that I have personally been covering here on AutoConverse for the last four years. But have you ever wondered about the real purpose of auto shows?

Besides the obvious purpose of showing off new cars, there are other reasons for these shows. It’s a big business for many players, and not just the automakers. Local auto retailers benefit, too, as do other players.

One of the key drivers to a show’s success is the engagement it generates. And over the last few years, several auto makers have passed on one or more of the major shows.

But is this a smart play for auto makers? Are auto makers not reaping the benefits of auto shows that they used to?

That depends on who you ask, and how you measure the benefits.

How do we measure a car show’s engagement?

As a Chicagoan who also works in the auto industry, I have had the privilege to form a relationship with the people and the organization who puts on the Chicago Auto Show each year – the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. The CATA represents more than 400 franchise dealerships in the Chicagoland area, and supports the local car and dealer market in a variety of ways even beyond the annual auto show.

Last month on our live weekly webcast – AC ON AIR, I was pleased to welcome special guest Mark Bilek, Senior Director of Communications and Technology of the CATA. Mark has been with the organization since 2006, with roots as a journalist and publisher in the auto industry prior to that.

Mark joined us on the show to talk about the data and metrics the CATA accumulates and analyzes to understand the show’s engagement. And the numbers are fascinating.

CAS Engagement by the Numbers*:

  • 60% of attendees are “in market” meaning they buy a new car within one year
  • 70% of those surveyed make a decision at the show itself
  • 41% of those surveyed add at least one vehicle to their selection because of the show
  • 13% drop a brand
  • 33% test drove a vehicle at the show

*These statistics are based on 3,000 exit surveys from the 2019 auto show.

The podcast and video featured in this post are the complete edited versions of my conversation with Mr. Bilek where our guest elaborates on even more fascinating numbers and insights about CAS attendees and the show’s engagement.

Enjoy the Conversation


About the Show

AC ON AIR is a live weekly webcast that focuses on how we are connected and the way we get round. For information about the show and how to watch live, follow this link to AutoConversion where the show is streamed live. For recent show excerpts here on AutoConverse follow this link.


About the Author

Ryan G
Ryan Gerardi is Chief Editor of AutoConverse Magazine and Executive Producer and Host of the AutoConverse Podcast and Live Weekly Broadcast. He is also Founder & CEO of AutoConversion with nearly 20 years experience in the automotive industry. Ryan concentrates his efforts today on exploring people, ideas, and technologies related to how we get around and how we are connected.

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