BikeBiz October 2019

Page 8

OPINION

To show or not to show? By Kevin Burton

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ast summer, I wrote an article for BikeBiz pondering cycle trade shows and how to approach them from a brand perspective. 18 months later, I want to follow up on that idea and contemplate how things have changed. I’ve attended multiple shows outside the bike world this year while working on a project that crosses over into other sports sectors. If they taught me anything, the experiences showed me that we are not alone in facing these issues. An electronics and tech show I attended was small, yet had lots of empty stands and was an expensive day out all in all. A motorsport show, meanwhile, was unfortunately rather out-ofdate, with an un-PC approach, which attracts a certain type of consumer. I also attended a fitness and bodybuilding show, which was a mixed affair. There was poor attendance for the retail half of the show, but the events and competitions drew a huge crowd. This year, I have attended only UK shows, so it’s been nice not to have the travel issues that can be created by some international events. With that in mind, I can only comment on non-UK events based upon what I have read, and what this industry vet has heard from friends and colleagues. I understand that it’s really difficult for all shows to host due to many reasons and I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of them, so I have a lot of respect for the organisers. It appears to me that many brands don’t need the trade days, as lots of business has mostly been completed in locations where the dealers are a captive audience, which makes sense for those brands. Personally, I would love to see shows as they used to be back in the 1990s.

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Most brands are present, but we have so many more brands now, and it’s still really expensive to attend, not just from the booking of the show, but other costs that come into play such as hotels, travel, food etc – not to mention the time spent out of the office carrying out our day-to-day duties! From what I’ve heard, a lot of big brands have pulled out of European shows this year – even more than last year. Brands are doing their own thing because it’s more cost-effective. This is happening at shows too – in particular in the UK, based on what I have seen. This is a real shame for the consumer as they miss out on seeing new products, which would, in turn, drive footfall. It was apparent that a large, well-known online brand was not attending the same number of shows that it has in the past. Like it or hate it, it brings consumers to shows and events, so the fact that it wasn’t there is another concern for the industry. So, what can we learn from this? You have to look at why people go to a show. In my view, it’s to look at a full range of products, new items, chat directly with the brands, test some products and dream about all the exotic products they may never own. Other reasons might be to listen to opinions from athletes and experts, and find out about events, holidays and races. The issue we have these days it that everyone is an expert – they have the knowledge at their fingertips – so maybe we need to be more interactive with consumers in a different way than we currently do. Dealer trade shows are on the decline, unless we can get all the brands in one (rather large) room at the same time. This may be a pipe dream, but I live in hope. n

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25/09/2019 12:58