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2012 Chicago Auto Show Can Be Economic Indicator

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SEE ALSO: 2012 Chicago Auto Show Press Pass Coverage

CHICAGO – Feb. 16, 2012… The Chicago Auto Show isn’t simply a showcase of new and exciting automobiles – it is actually used by manufacturers and auto dealers to track economic trends through consumer research and reactions. Because the purchase of an automobile is such an important economic decision for individuals and families, the opinions of the attendees at the show are integral for the auto industry, as manufacturers make decisions about their future offerings and marketing initiatives.

The Chicago Auto Show is the largest in the country, making it an excellent venue for market research. Research is conducted in four stages: Consumer reaction at the displays; exit attendee interviews; broad-based general population perception of the show; and follow-up research of attendees who said they intended to purchase a specific brand, to see if they actually made that purchase. This research helps manufacturers compile important information on demographics, purchasing decisions and which marketing programs work best for specific audiences.

"As the show’s producer, we’re interested in the opinions of the attendees because of their influence on the marketplace," said Dave Sloan, general manager of the Chicago Auto Show. "Manufactures are always weighing the importance of auto shows as a part of their marketing budgets. We help them realize better return on investment through the research that is being done. Obviously they have a very large investment in these incredible displays, but the research continually proves that it pays off."

"We have had a great show so far and the buzz is growing," Sloan continued. "We view this as a definite sign that people who are at our show today will be at dealerships very soon. That’s good for the industry and that’s good for the economy. We raised $2.1 million at our First Look for Charity event this year, which is up from last year as well. The automotive industry definitely looks to the Chicago show to provide these economic indicators."

Research is also done in the floor displays by professionals armed with iPads to get immediate consumer reaction to various automobiles, trends and concepts.

One of those firms, Foresight Research, conducts consumer research for auto shows. Steve Bruyn, CEO of the firm, said: "This show is important for the industry because of the number of people who attend it. Our past research shows more than 50 percent of attendees looking to purchase a new vehicle in the near future will actually make up their minds at this show. Additionally, we’ve found that more than 60 percent of attendees say that the show and its displays are among the most important influencers in their making their decision to purchase a particular brand.