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Motor show showdown

Motor show melee: Calls to have one major annual Australian motor show, alternating between Melbourne and Sydney, are gathering momentum.

New Roy Morgan research reveals similarities between Sydney and Melbourne show-goers

General News logo15 Apr 2008

NEW research obtained exclusively by GoAuto has highlighted the similarities, rather than the differences, between Sydney and Melbourne motor show-goers.

The latest Roy Morgan Research study, which is due to be released this week, shows that the Melbourne International Motor Show (MIMS) has a strong influence on sales outcomes in higher-income brackets in particular, adding fuel to the debate over whether car companies can afford to boycott either it or the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

The Morgan survey results revealed striking similarities in the quality of attendees at both last year’s Sydney motor show and this year’s Melbourne show, in terms of the number that intended to purchase a new vehicle, their income levels and their reason for attending the show.

According to Roy Morgan Research, the 2008 MIMS “showed little difference from the 2007 Sydney show in the potential value of attendees for participating manufacturers”.

In terms of the proportion of those that intended to buy a new vehicle in the next four years, the survey revealed both Sydney and Melbourne show-goers to be well above the 13 per cent of general population that does so, at 53 and 50 per cent respectively.

Similarly, 26 per cent of Sydney show attendees said they planned to buy a new car within the next 12 months, compared to 21 per cent of Melbourne show-goers and just four per cent of all Australians.

Sydney was also slightly ahead of Melbourne when it came to show attendees who were full-time workers with an income of more than $70,000 per annum, at 42 and 44 per cent respectively (versus 21 per cent for the general population).

However, 42 per cent of MIMS attendees said they attended the show because they were “looking at which car to buy”, compared to 36 per cent of AIMS goers.

“There is continuing evidence that the automotive brand perceptions of these key consumers are directly influenced by attendance at motor shows,” said RMR consultant Sak Ryopponen.

“In Melbourne, 30 per cent of respondents prior to attending identified that “one brand is the best”, but clearly their views were broadened during the show as only six per cent agreed with the comment after attending the show.

 center imageLeft: Last month's Mercedes-Benz AMG event at Mount Panorama.

“The same numbers in Sydney were 15 per cent, down to seven per cent. One could argue that if participation in the shows does nothing else but put your brand on the consideration list, it has done its job.

“When you also consider that for both shows, 59 per cent said they didn’t attend last year, the ability to have fresh, meaningful impact on well targeted consumers by putting some thought and effort into a show stand would seem to be a well considered marketing strategy.” The latest motor show research comes at a time when more than a dozen key automotive brands have indicated they will not be represented at this year’s Sydney motor show, led most notably by Mercedes-Benz which also chose not to attend the 2007 Melbourne show.

In an increasing trend, Mercedes believes it can more effectively target potential customers by holding exclusive interactive events, such as last month’s AMG event at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama circuit, which was hired out for an unprecedented four days to launch the new C63 AMG sedan at a reported cost of more than $4 million.

“At this point we think we can spend the money more wisely,” said the senior manager for corporate communications at Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific, David McCarthy.

“It’s important to connect one on one with our customers. Motor shows are very expensive, but other importers who are perhaps less premium may have a different perspective,” he said, adding that it received widespread positive feedback from its Bathurst event, at which it directly sold at least three cars.” Mr McCarthy reiterated Mercedes-Benz’s call for MIMS organiser, the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce (VACC), and AIMS organiser, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), to work together present bi-annual alternating events.

“It is our firm belief that there should be one motor show rotating between Sydney and Melbourne, and we encourage the FCAI and VACC to do everything they can to make that happen,” he said.

GoAuto understands the average motor show stand costs in excess of $1 million to exhibit, but sources indicate that if Mercedes was to spend that amount, less than 12 per cent would go to event organisers – so it is not the fees but the cost of the displays themselves that are prohibitive.

Mercedes will not be the only premium brand to be absent from Darling Harbour this year, with at least 13 brands expected to pull out despite calls from the FCAI for them to reconsider.

They include BMW, which has echoed Mercedes’ call for a single annual event. “Our preference is that one show be held each year, in the middle of the year, alternating between Melbourne and Sydney, but obviously that is not going to happen at the moment,” said spokesman Toni Andreevski.

“There is still a place for the traditional motor show, but we are becoming more sophisticated in communicating with our customers,” he said, adding that BMW is currently conducting “Fascination3” drive days, at which it runs potential and existing customers through its range of 3 Series models.

Audi, which is renowned for staging some of ther most spectacular motor show presentations in Australia, said it is yet to decide whether it will have a presence in Sydney this year.

"It is no secret that attending a motor show takes up a considerale amount of your bduget," said spokesperson Anna Burgdorf.

Former Ford group luxury brands Jaguar, Aston martin and Land Rover have confirmed their Sydney non-attendance for similar reasons.

Porsche will not be present in Sydney - and nor will Rolls-Royce, Mini or Bentley. Volkswagen will decide in two weeks whether it will attend Syndey, but has said in the past it would prefer an alternating motor show calendar.

While Ferrari and Maserati will both be represented in Sydney, importer Ateco Automotive also distributes Alfa Romeo, Citroen and Fiat, and will not make a decision whether to attend until July, based on new model availability.

That means that at this stage, apart from the supercar specialists, the only luxury brands to have been confirmed for the 2008 Sydney motor show are Lexus, which will launch its IS-F, and Volvo, which will present its new XC60 crossover.

Read more:

No show for Benz

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