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

Featured Stories
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
FertilizerTFI President To Give Update On Nutrient Management Efforts At Annual Conference
January 19, 2015
The Fertilizer Institute President Chris Jahn will give the keynote address at the 2015 Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference February 4. Read More
Green Valley Ag facility
Paul SchrimpfRightsizing Ag Retail
January 9, 2015
Seeking the right balance of facilities, efficiency and customer service will make our businesses stronger and, truth be told, more capable of competing effectively with the likes of Pinnacle. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
Has the app market reached a saturation point? Consider Google Play and the iTunes App Store combined have more than Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
Crop InputsNovozymes Sales Figures Up For 2014
January 20, 2015
Novozymes announces its sales growth in 2014 was in line with expectations as sales grew by 7% compared with 2013. Read More