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
FertilizerGypsum Added To List Of Conservation Practices
July 28, 2016
Crop farmers in a growing number of states may be eligible for financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Read More
Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover …
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesStudy: Fall Weed Controls Can Make Significant Impact O…
July 28, 2016
An article published in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science shows that adopting harvest-time and post-harvest weed controls Read More
InsecticidesSyngenta: Beware Of Early Stinkbug Threat To Soybeans
July 28, 2016
With the record warm temperatures this past winter and confirmations from early entomologist reports, Syngenta encourages growers to monitor stinkbug Read More
Peanut field
Crop InputsVerdesian Introduces New Inoculant For Peanuts
July 28, 2016
As planning begins for the next growing season, Verdesian Life Sciences adds Primo Power CL, a new liquid inoculant, to Read More
Soil Young Corn
Crop InputsSmithsonian: 5 Things to Know About New GMO Labeling Bi…
July 27, 2016
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring large food companies to label products containing genetically modified Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesSpecial Issue Of Weed Science Explores Human Aspects Of…
July 27, 2016
Weeds that evolve resistance to herbicides are a serious threat to global agricultural production. In this Special Issue of Weed Science, Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100CHS Businesses In Washington, Idaho Combining For Great…
July 27, 2016
As full-service ag retailers, CHS Primeland and CHS Farmers Co-op collectively serve farmers and other customers in 15 counties in Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
Crop InputsNACHURS Joins Field to Market
July 27, 2016
NACHURS announced today that it has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a leading multi-stakeholder initiative working Read More
Illinois Researchers
FertilizerMeasure Of Age In Soil Nitrogen Could Help Precision Ag…
July 26, 2016
What’s good for crops is not always good for the environment. Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants, can cause problems Read More
Kochia
Crop InputsNufarm Launches New Herbicide for Resistant Kochia
July 25, 2016
Nufarm introduces Scorch herbicide for U.S. farmers and ranchers combating a broad range of troublesome broadleaf weeds. A unique premix Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsBloomberg: Syngenta-Chem China Deal on Track for Regula…
July 25, 2016
Syngenta AG, which has agreed to be taken over by China National Chemical Corp. for $43 billion, said talks with Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and R…
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: EU Approves Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Imports
July 22, 2016
Monsanto Co. announced today that the European Commission has granted import approval for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. This milestone Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSyngenta Announces Alfalfa Seed Split Off
July 22, 2016
On September 1, 2016, Syngenta will transfer sales and distribution of alfalfa seed to the NEXGROW branded business that is Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDuPont, Dow Shareholders Approve Merger
July 21, 2016
DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that, at their respective special meetings of stockholders held today, stockholders of both Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Oth…
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More