The marketing “world” today is significantly different than that of 40 years ago, but motors shows today are remarkably similar to those of the 1960’s. As the Shanghai Motor Show of a few days ago came to a close, it occurred to me that car shows in general seem to have lost much of their original purpose, or at the very least have not adapted to the new technologies available today, namely the internet.
Firstly, given the ease with which the cars are frequently discovered before they even make it to the show, the main purpose of showing off vehicles which the public has never seen before doesn’t seem to make sense. Take the new BMW X4 – virtually no one was surprised at the design, because it was available on the internet long before the show. Secondly, the argument that the purpose of the shows is to get as much exposure as possible for new vehicles also seems to fail, because the companies could just as easily provide images of the cars (which is what the vast majority of people see anyway, given that most people are not able to attend these shows) via the internet.
Perhaps one could make the argument that the sense of festivity associated with these shows creates publicity that would otherwise not exist, but given the high costs associated with auto shows, that argument doesn’t quite seem to hold water. It seems to me that the PR departments associated with these shows will find ways to show off their vehicles significantly more cheaply via the internet. Unless there is a big piece of the puzzle that I am missing, it seems likely that motor shows will at the very least be scaled down significantly.