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
ManagementUpdates on Glyphosate Use in the EU and Bayer/Monsanto
June 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the latest important developments on these crop protection fronts. Read More
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Names Protassium+ Sales Director
June 28, 2016
Compass Minerals, the producer of Protassium+ sulfate of potash, has named Scott Johnson director of sales for Protassium+ North America. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe British Leave Vote Impact On EU Agriculture
June 27, 2016
Like virtually everyone else in the world this past week, I’ve watched the global reaction to Britain’s vote to exit Read More
Valent David Nothmann
Crop InputsValent Names David Nothmann Vice President Of Marketing
June 27, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has announced the appointment of David Nothmann as vice president of marketing. Nothmann will be responsible for Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stew…
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Contributes To Mayo Clinic
June 27, 2016
BRANDT, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of specialty agriculture products, has pledged a sizable donation to the Mayo Clinic Read More
ManagementReport: U.S. Farmland Values On Average Continue Gradua…
June 27, 2016
Land price movement has been in the forefront for farmers, landowners, lenders and land brokers for a decade now during Read More
AdjuvantsPrecision Laboratories Introduces Intact Xtra For Use W…
June 27, 2016
Precision Laboratories announces the launch of Intact Xtra, an adjuvant designed for applicators who want to maximize spray applications and Read More
Key Cooperative’s new liquid fertilizer, crop chemical, and seed facility in Grinnell, IA stores 1.5 million gallons of liquid fertilizer and 120,000 gallons of crop chemicals.
Retail FacilitiesKey Cooperative Facility Features The Latest In Murray …
June 27, 2016
When Key Cooperative wanted to improve the overall efficiency at its new state-of-the-art facility in Grinnell, IA, it turned to Read More
Allen Summers Asmark Institute PSM Training
EmployeesAsmark Institute Sponsors 25 ResponsibleAg Auditor Trai…
June 21, 2016
The Asmark Institute has announced plans to provide 25 scholarships through their affiliated State fertilizer and agrichemical associations to help encourage Read More
Kennebec Elevator
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Celebrates Kennebec Elevator Grand Openin…
June 21, 2016
Over 250 patrons and guests were on hand to celebrate Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Elevator grand opening. South Dakota Secretary of Read More
Land O Lakes
Industry NewsLand O’Lakes To Acquire Ceres
June 20, 2016
Land O’ Lakes, Inc. and Ceres, Inc. have announced that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Land O’Lakes Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To …
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
LegislationVilsack Christens WinField Crop Adventure, Talks Monsan…
June 17, 2016
The WinField Crop Adventure grand opening ceremonies at Fair Oaks Farms (near Winemac, IN) welcomed USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Read More
Crop InputsFields of the Future: WinField Doubles Down with Agri-E…
June 16, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc., joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, today will host Fields of the Future, a live broadcast about Read More
Bayer sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Turns Back Bayer Again
June 14, 2016
Bayer AG’s bid to buy Monsanto Co. for more than $60 billion has hit an impasse that could pose a Read More
Young Corn Field
Crop NutritionNext Generation Of Nitrogen Efficiency Technology Conve…
June 13, 2016
Commodity price projections indicate farmers will continue to face tight margins again this year. Delivering higher yields and more bushels Read More