World Cup 2022: Really?

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About the Author

Bruno Camus is a Doctor of Management, Professor of Marketing at Kedge Business School.

Author of several books published by Editions d’Organization and academic articles, his research work is focused on the automotive sector, where he also works as a consultant.

For Autonews, he analyzes and decodes the strategies of manufacturers and sheds light on the complexity of their market and their environment.

A confirmed trend

The last two editions, in 2016 and 2018, have already shown signs of losing the appeal of a major motor show in Paris; and more widely at motor shows around the world. No builders, reduced durations, limited budgets…despite the public, admittedly still loyal, but less enthusiastic. 2022 confirms this trend in a more radical way, by further shortening the duration (6 days compared to 11 in 2018, with only one Press day this year, compared to 2 4 years ago ago); and especially by recording an absence rate of builders never seen before. None of the main German groups, neither English nor American, nor even Japanese and Korean, as Quentin Guéroult pointed out in Auto News (autonews.fr 19/10/2022) traveled. Even the French groups did not present all their brands, especially Stellantis, which ignored its Italian brands (Fiat – Alfa Romeo in particular), and even Citroën, although at home. Only Renault, supported by Dacia and Alpine, decided against this darkness by revealing many new things.

Since then, the area has been free to welcome other manufacturers, less familiar to the main international fairs, such as national craftsmen such as Hopium, NamX, Genty or Pantore, in all about ten French brands that are not the general public knows. But those who undoubtedly benefited the most from the disfection of “traditional” manufacturers are the Chinese, who came in large numbers to present their models, mostly electric, accompanied by a Vietnamese brand: VinFast. The abundance of these Chinese cars confirmed the will of planetary conquest of the automobile industry of the modest empire, by posting a clear progress in style as in quality, and by proposing models super equipped at a very competitive price. It remains to convince the European consumer, and to set up a distribution network that meets them. However, today it is undeniable that China will have to rely on the future market for electric vehicles.

Renault against water

Illustrative pictureCredit Photo – Paris Motor Show 2022 – Joris Clerc

Faced with this context of turning away from its usual challengers, Renault opted for a dynamic presence and a positive attitude. In addition to its models already on the market, the diamond brand presented new products, such as the Austral, and concepts that will be marketed in two to three years: The R.5 has already been seen but enriched with a Turbo version also in the neo-retro spirit of the eponymous model from the 80s; and especially the 4 Ever that takes the stylistic codes of the iconic 4L, promised like the 5, in an electric version. Dacia and Alpine are not left out, the latter has confirmed that it is also making the sporty A110 with electric motors. Renault Group CEO Luca De Meo wasted no time or energy laying out his confident approach to the press, while his Stellantis counterpart Carlos Tanvares gave the impression of backing down. Since Mondial sales are officially permitted, Renault has announced that it has completed 500 for the main brand, and 300 for Dacia.

Since then, visitors have been torn between the pleasure of returning to their show after four years, and the discovery of new brands and models, which reinforce the arrival of electric vehicles; and the disappointment of not being able to dream in front of luxury brands and super sports cars, despite an exhibition of old Ferraris due to the absence of the manufacturer’s presence with a prancing horse. No more Porsches, Aston Martins, Bugattis, Bentleys, Rolls or Jaguars… In general, the stands are less impressive than usual, the presentation and animations are rarer, and even the traditional carpet on the floor is has been removed. This resulted in an atmosphere of the event that was quite difficult, even cheap, especially since the social crisis that caused the fuel shortage was unlikely to boost morale. The price of entry, from 16 to 30 Euro, may seem a bit high…

The number of 400,000 visitors is a good illustration of the decline of interest in the Mondial (attendance was around one million in 2018), although this mark is identical to that recorded at the Munich show held twice a year in Paris.

An inevitable change

Illustrative picture

Illustrative pictureCredit Photo – Paris Motor Show 2022 – Joris Clerc

In the same way that the automotive sector is changing by focusing on electrical energy, and to a lesser extent, hydrogen, the major exhibitions are also evolving towards a more global approach to the vehicle, and uses related to mobility. This results in new positions dedicated to events focused on the vehicle in its socio-economic and technological environment. This leads to an evolution in the nature of exhibitors (no longer just manufacturers), and in the purpose of the event. It is always a question of promoting car sales, by showing the models, but also of showing how manufacturers and their industrial partners are capable of meeting the challenges of the future. The equation is not easy, because the model mixes the rationality of technological and environmental issues, with the emotion, even the passion, that the “car” always evokes. The traditional model has reached its limits, as we have seen since 2016, and it is becoming inevitable to question it. The shows of “the world then” are clearly doomed, due to the lack of participants despite the arrival of new manufacturers such as the Chinese. The phenomenon is that all over the world, all the historical fairs are declining. Detroit in the USA (September) also experienced severe disfection from foreign exhibitors, to the point that the press qualified it as a “regional show”, limited to American manufacturers only. Geneva, symbol of the passion show, will move to Qatar. Brussels remains optimistic for its show next January, especially since it will be the 100th edition, but brands and dealers express reservations about its interest in the face of its cost.

The way of communicating with the client has increased and no longer justifies the cost and the time spent on static displays that last a week. In addition to physical (points of sale) or virtual (internet) networks, the potential customer can be approached in other ways. This can be seen through qualitative events, such as the Chantilly Automotive Elegance Competition (Peter Organization – September), a major celebration of vintage vintage cars, but offering manufacturers the opportunity to present concept cars in a dedicated category. of the contest, and to show their range and welcome their best customers. This targeted approach, around events and places higher than the halls of traditional trade shows, attracts the marketing departments of brands, particularly the premium. So, like a major international sporting event, which carries values ​​that flatter the brand, and is publicized, like Tennis (Porsche), skiing (Audi) or Golf (Jaguar) for example, is considered more profitable and useful than having life. room Communication budgets are limited, and media advertising is partially used, marketing managers logically seek to optimize their promotional actions, leaving their dealer networks the freedom to go to regional shows ( at their expense), which they find relevant. The smartest builders take advantage of the holding of a major international show where they are not, to organize simultaneously and in the same city, a private event that will then benefit from the ambient media exposure of the major show. This strategy has a name: Ambush Marketing, and has been practiced for a long time in the sports sector on the occasion of the Olympic Games or the Football World Cup. At the last Paris Motor Show, Mercedes presented its EQE model at the Rodin Museum in Paris, inviting target customers and all specialized journalists, who were also present in the capital for the World Cup. The star brand took advantage of media exposure at least equal to, if not greater than, that it would have gotten by organizing its presentation on a stand at the show; for a significantly lower budget.

So it is clear that the World Cup is no longer… Beyond the pun, the question of the future of major international exhibitions is posed. They probably won’t disappear, but still need to innovate to reduce their cost, attract exhibitors and visitors, and coexist with other forms of event communication that are considered more efficient and profitable. Because of this, trade fair organizers have admitted that people do not come and pay if they are not offered a real show, as exhibitors expect a tangible return on their investment. The consequences must be drawn in terms of innovation and festive character, otherwise motor shows will not survive.

to summarize

After 4 years of absence due to Covid, the Mondial de l’Auto is back in Paris, but in a shortened format and without most of the major manufacturers. Is the term Mondial still appropriate?

Bruno Camus

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