By Stephan Franklin, Auto Show Global
Last week, Auto Week magazine reported that at least 8 auto manufacturers have pulled out of the Frankfurt Auto show next month. For some this is a beginning to an end of the auto show circuit as we know it, but it may be a sign of the changing times of media reporting of new automotive products. It’s nothing new, this trend has been evolving for the last couple of years, but now it seems everyone including the media is starting to take notice.
Automakers are trying to leverage the bang for the buck. We started noticing the trend years ago when luxury brands such as Bentley, Rolls Royce and Aston martin, and even Porsche, stop showing up and the (NAIAS) North American International Auto Show. Typically, back then, if there wasn’t a new product to unveil for that year or the market wasn’t as beneficial to the automaker, they would just skip the show.
Now that the automotive market has become more saturated and competitive, and automakers are leveraging virtual press releases through the internet, we are seeing more and more no-shows at the auto shows. The true winners in this new scenario have become the automakers. The reveals are more stand-alone than in the typical auto show schedule where there is a press conference every 15 minutes and the new product is a good as the next venue that is serving alcohol, expresso, and pastries after their press conference.
Because of the integration of technology, the (CES) Consumer Electronics Show has taken away some of the shine from NAIAS at the beginning of each year. Alternative venues and events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K. is attracting auto makers, as the Texas State Fair is becoming popular for its market. The virtual press conference with multimedia press releases have leveraged the reach of the internet and social media to create the 15 minutes of fame on any given day, without having to share the day with any other auto maker.
Media event budgets are looking at a substantial cost savings. The displays are getting smaller, brands are targeting competition instead of being housed under one umbrella. The web-based press conferences have reduced the amount of money spent on actual travel and set-up. Limiting product exposure to relevant markets allows automakers to get more mileage from the core product to the core customers. Not only that, the extra space allows little known brands or technologies become part of the show as well. This past show at NAIAS was a notable example of leveraging, with a more technology focused show.
Peugeot, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Mitsubishi, Volvo, Jeep, Infinity, Nissan, and DS will not be at the Frankfurt show, I’m not losing any sleep over that. What makes me restless is that the complexion of the auto show circuit is changing, largely in part as to how we receive information and respond to it. Our habits are starting to change when it comes to access to information. I’m still restless at autonomous vehicles, A.I, data collection, and just the loss of interaction among human beings. Virtual press conferences take the place of one on one interviews, product interaction and touch. Technology tells us what to do and speaks our mind. The price of convenience, the cost of market share, what happens if the auto show goes away? The answer may well be, see you at the next electronics or special interest venue or maybe YouTube.