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ROCHESTER, Mich. — Foresight Research, a firm near Detroit specializing in the auto industry, found a strong connection between vehicle buyers and attendees at auto shows, especially in the Midwest.

Its research study determined 70 percent of show attendees who said they were influenced to purchase a new vehicle recalled spending 30 minutes or more at the display of the brand they ultimately purchased.

While Foresight concedes not every show attendee spent that long looking over a vehicle, firm executives reinforce their study conclusions by mentioning another element. They also found that 20 percent of all study participants had attended a show within 12 months of their purchase.

In major metropolitan cities in the Midwest, that percentage was even higher. Foresight learned that 27 percent of purchasers from Chicago who completed survey went to a show within a 12-month span. In Minneapolis, the percentage edged up to 28. For Detroit, it was 35 percent, and in Cleveland, it was 36 percent.

When looking at the overall statistics, Foresight executives explained that among respondents who attended an auto show, 39 percent said they were completely or partially influenced.

The influence percentage shot up even higher among survey respondents who took a test drive as part of the show. That figure spiked to 54 percent according to Foresight.

Firm executives drew the conclusion that the survey is a "ringing endorsement for the value to both consumers and manufacturers of auto shows." Foresight reviewed the input from 8,467 people who purchased or leased a new vehicle between October 2008 and October 2009.

"We know that consumers enjoy the glitz and glamour of auto shows," conceded Steve Bruyn, president of Foresight Research.

"However, this research clearly demonstrates that auto shows have a substantial impact beyond just enjoyment. They dramatically influence the actual purchase decision. Clearly consumers utilize auto shows as one large automotive showroom," Bruyn explained.

"We can think of no other marketing communication that gets that kind of attention from new car and truck buyers," Bruyn concluded.