Tricks Of The Trade Show

AS a 20-year veteran of trade journalism, I was saddened recently to witness the end of an era. In the past few months, two long-established trade shows of the ag community — the British Crop Protection Council Congress and the Stockton Ag Expo — following 30-plus years of existence, called it quits. In both cases, the show organizers blamed declining attendance, coupled with industry consolidation, for ending their runs.

“It’s obviously sad, but it’s a show that’s kind of run its course,” said one observer of the Stockton event.

Of course, these incidences beg the question — are ag trade shows still necessary in our Internet-obsessed age? For a possible answer, let’s
examine what happened in my old trade industry, the beverage world.

Annually between 1950 and 1988, the trade show event for beverage makers was called InterBev. Held every fall, this show attracted upwards of 20,000 visitors and hundreds of exhibitors. Product launches, new marketing campaigns, and personnel inductions all took place at this “it” show. Private concerts by the likes of Ray Charles and Gladys Knight were regularly held for “special guests” of Coke and Pepsi.

Of course, it didn’t last. As consolidation and exhibitor costs steadily increased throughout the 1980s, the larger companies within the industry began to demand changes. They pressured InterBev’s supporters to make the show a biennial event. The organizers resisted, but ultimately gave in as the larger exhibitors stopped coming.

Today, InterBev still exists, but in a much scaled down version from its glory days. Attendance is in the 3,000 to 7,000 range, with perhaps 200
exhibitors on hand. The big exhibitors and their premier events are gone, replaced by many smaller companies looking to establish themselves in an ever-shrinking marketplace.

As for the larger exhibitors such as Coke and Pepsi, they now regularly hold “invite only” meetings with key distributors and suppliers independent of a traditional trade show, since there are so few of each group left to cater to.

So, is this the ultimate fate for all the ag industry’s once “it” trade shows? According to ag retailers, trade shows still serve an important role in their annual operations. “Trade shows allow us to see the latest equipment and technology while it is located in one spot and time to network with the
vendors we work with,” says Jim Shelton of Landmark Services Cooperative.

Still, to survive long term, I think ag trade shows will need to adopt one of two strategies. One is to maintain the “it” show status by filling the void left as “non-it” shows fold. For example, the World Ag Expo added 100,000 square feet of exhibit space this year as competing events have exited the market. Expect more to be added in 2009 now that the Stockton Ag Expo is gone.

The other survival approach is to cater to a more niche audience. The Colusa, CA, Farm Show has grown in recent years by limiting its range to local or nearby attendees and exhibitors.]

Ultimately, I think ag trade shows will continue to play an important role in the lives of ag retailers, because our industry tends to favor “kicking the tires” of the products we buy. However, the landscape will probably evolve from its current set-up, with only the very big and very focused trade shows being left when the dust finally settles.
 

Leave a Reply

Latest News
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More
ManagementConsolidation hits and a miss; And a look at China’s ch…
August 28, 2015
As Monsanto suspends its pursuit of Syngenta, consolidation news at the retail and distribution level heats up. CropLife magazine’s Executive Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulati…
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsNFU: Monsanto Decision To Withdraw Syngenta Bid ‘…
August 26, 2015
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was very pleased by the news that Monsanto has withdrawn Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Withdraws Bid For Syngenta
August 26, 2015
Monsanto Co. abandoned its latest effort to acquire Syngenta AG, the world’s top maker of pesticides, after a sweetened bid Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Comments On Monsanto Announcement
August 26, 2015
The Board of Syngenta confirms that it received a verbal proposal from Monsanto to acquire the company at a price Read More
Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer
EquipmentHigh-powered Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer Pushes Throug…
August 26, 2015
Engineered with more muscle, the new 660-gallon-capacity Patriot 2250 sprayer features best-in-class horsepower, along with the fuel efficiency that comes Read More
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Eric SfiligojPrecision Ag Could Shine In Increased Spotlight On Agri…
August 24, 2015
By any measure, 2015 is turning into one of the most challenging years agriculture has ever experienced. All throughout good Read More
ManagementCrop Conditions In Minnesota and Traveling Time
August 21, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiilgoj discuss the crop outlook from a field trip to Minnesota and upcoming travel plans. Read More
HerbicidesREUTERS: Anti-GMO ‘Scientist’ Calls For New…
August 20, 2015
EDITORS NOTE: We feel that it is important to note that there are those that believe one of the lead Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Announces Seedcare Application And Resource Ce…
August 19, 2015
Syngenta recently announced the Seedcare Application and Resource Center, a collaborative new website designed exclusively for Syngenta Seedcare customers to Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Announces Two New Regional Sales Man…
August 19, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced Steve Vining and Phil Reding have each accepted new positions as Regional Sales Managers. Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
Golden Harvest Corn healthy leaves
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names Vice President, Crop Prot…
August 18, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC have appointed Warren Hragyil to VP Crop Protection. Hragyil comes to Aligned Ag Distributors LLC with Read More