Monday, September 27, 2010

Interbike's New Date and Destination Frets Retailers

InterbikSept. 27, 2010.  First report on Interbike
This year's Interbike did not disappoint in terms of new product, but the show organizer's plan to move the event to Anaheim in the second week of August next year had retailers all in a tizzy.

"I will not come," said one retailer based in Canada, who preferred to remain off the record. She already had plans for the week of August 8 through 12, 2010, and neither she nor her partner will be able to get away. "It would kill our busiiness," she said.

Pic: Contador's Specialized Tarmac Bike (Benepe (c))

Another retailer from the northeast U.S. said they won't be able to make it either. "It's crazy, right in the middle of our biggest season," he noted.

"You know what? It's going to be a west coast show only," said another. These were the words of every single retailer I spoke to. Not one said they planned to make it, and none could arrange to get away from their businesses--at least for now.

One vendor support specialist who works the Outdoor Demo and the Cross Vegas race predicted the show won't even make it to Anaheim before the organizers change their minds and bring it back. He noted that the lack of adequate entertainment and infrastructure in Anaheim would make it a very dull locale.

"Traffic will be a killer--can you imagine competing with Disneyland in the middle of August?" said another retailer. He is not planning on attending either because August is his biggest month of the year.

Attendance Down?  

The move to Anaheim, CA is sure to bring numbers down at a time when the bicycle industry is still reeling from a difficult U.S. and worldwide recession at the same time that prices from primary supplier countries like China continue to increase.

Photo: Mavic shoe: "The lightest shoe in the market." (Benepe, (c))

Show management said that Interbike attendance by both vendors and retailers was about level with last year. But they offered no details as to how that information was collected.

For one, some companies took double booths this year, like Champion Systems, who had a long rack of custom clothing--all of it the same but done in 4 color ways, stationed themselves directly across from Castelli; and Sheila Moon took a bigger booth with a marketing story that was a mix between a Target-driven California Hillbilly and Free People, (the iconoclastic brand that reaps millions from its imagery of statuesque blonde fraulein imports in tabacco road type settings).  Nutcase, that zany helmet designer had also doubled its booth size.

However, anecdotally, BBB spoke to a number of vendors who elected not to have booths this year. Descente, Panache,  and Vicious Cycles took the Trek route of not coming to the show with a booth, some for economical reasons, others because no business was being written so late in the season.

We also spoke to retailers --scores of them--who did not attend this year or worse, sent their junior level managers who only have input, but not decision-making power. Smaller retailers from all over the country--Florida, New York, Connecticut to name some states-- elected not to come at all. Those same retailers are the only ones that would write any meaningful business so late in the season.

Which is why Interbike is moving to the second week in August.  However, some lamented that even that earlier date is already too late.

Pic: A Pearizumi jersey that has iterations of a previous 2007 Hotvelociti design

"It's become a consumer show," said one vendor. "That's why we aren't really interested in coming anymore."

Some vendors also complained that the show had become more and more of an opportunity for their competition to come and scope out their product, then run back to HQ to duplicate it.

One apparel maker said they found two executives from a major competitor in their booth this year carefully examining the fabric and finishes on their bike shorts. "Last year they copied our product, so this year we aren't showing anything outside. Our legitimate customers can come to our suite and see it," he noted. All of their product was displayed behind glass encasements. He said it would have been different if they had come up and introduced themselves.

Another fear was copying by Asian factories. One vendor said he does not allow photographs anymore because the photogs represent large factories that have in the past immediately put their design into production--but only the front part of the jersey because they didn't have a photo of its back.

For those reasons, many suppliers had adopted private, walled-in compounds to ward off would be imitators, including Specialized, Terry Bikes, Luna, and Hincapie. Specialized took the unusual step of not allowing people in without a retailer pass. One apparel rep complained that he could not get into the booth to see the bikes because he was shopping for one himself.

It's not unusual for competitors to rip one another off: BBB saw an iteration of Hotvelociti's design from two years ago, prominently displayed in the Pearlizumi booth this year.

Some booths were wide open for all to enter either because they had a confident brand and marketing placement, or the opposite--followers with sad imitations and poor workmanship. Mavic, Chrome, Camelbak, and Nutcase were examples of leaders who did not close their doors to attendees.  The logic was not consistent however--some followers had walled off compounds for product that clearly represented nothing new, interesting or even noteworthy.  Maybe they just didn't want their competition to see how much their lines had deteriorated.

3 comments:

Nycpedicab said...

As far as it being late in the season, the intent of the Interbike trade show is for dealers to order new bikes and accessories for the following season. Isn't that the whole idea? I don't understand the late in the season suggestion.

So even if a product is being copied by other manufacturers, it's going to arrive about a year late if a dealer can't order it right then. But as for privacy, I never met a vendor who didn't want a member of the press in the booth (I would attend with a press badge also). I can understand with strained resources, a booth's staff needs to spend time on the dealers first and foremost.

As someone who has attended Interbike shows in both Anaheim and Las Vegas, a return to Anaheim would actually be welcome. As far as traffic issues, Las Vegas has as much as anywhere else and is about the most bike-unfriendly town ever. So what you save on hotel rooms, you're spending on taxi fare.

Bonus: after the Anaheim show, you can go visit friends in Cali.

Al said...

As a dealer, I thought that this year's Interbike was good and useful. We picked up some new products and ideas. And, of course, seeing the new models of bike lines we carry is always good. I do understand the criticisms expressed by dealers and vendors in your blog update. Still, I see a national trade show as a good opportunity for smaller vendors to acquaint dealers with their products. And to me the date is almost irrelevant, except when it conflicts with peak selling season--which the new Interbike dates do.

As to the future of Interbike, it seems that they are solidly committed to Anaheim. But I do not believe that is the major story. Personally , I have a theory that Eurobike will announce within the next 30 days a North American show to be held around early October, 2011, in...Las Vegas. They had briefly proposed a US show about 3 years ago and they are probably the only organization that would be able to pull it off.

I have not spoken to a single retailer that is planning on sending even one staff member to Interbike in Anaheim. Based on such conversations it seems very doubtful to me that attendance will be even 50% of the 2010 numbers. One of the main attractions of Las Vegas has been that it is a cheap trip for retailers. I suppose that the argument could be made that Las Vegas is TOO inexpensive so that retail employees with no buying power tend to overrun the show. But I tend to think that any bike shop employee presence at a trade show is good They see products that they will tell customers about.


Overall, the old system (prior to 1998) in which there were 3 regional shows (Anaheim, Chicago and Phildelphia) was the most convenient for retailers. Nobody had to travel very far to attend a good show. But vendors, understandably, did not like the idea of having to attend all three. That system collapsed when Interbike moved from Anaheim to Las Vegas (1998) and the other two shows rapidly folded because, for various reasons, Las Vegas was a better option for retailers. From a theoretical standpoint a mid-continent show in a place such as Kansas City or Dallas might be the shortest trip from most parts of the country. But those cities would not have the "Vegas magic" and would be a more expensive trip for retailers. Notwithstanding the exhorbitant fees that are charged vendors by the Sands Convention Center, Las Vegas wins by default. Add to that the fact that, with the desperate current economic situation of that city, the powers that be will be willing to offer some strong enticements to any organization that will keep an industry show there. The massive unfinished and bankrupt projects--the Echelon and Fontainebleau--stand as ominous and threatening reminders of what the future of the city will be if it loses its tourist and convention business.

Anonymous said...

As a dealer, I thought that this year's Interbike was good and useful. We picked up some new products and ideas. And, of course, seeing the new models of bike lines we carry is always good. I do understand the criticisms expressed by dealers and vendors in your blog update. Still, I see a national trade show as a good opportunity for smaller vendors to acquaint dealers with their products. And to me the date is almost irrelevant, except when it conflicts with peak selling season--which the new Interbike dates do.

As to the future of Interbike, it seems that they are solidly committed to Anaheim. But I do not believe that is the major story. Personally , I have a theory that Eurobike will announce within the next 30 days a North American show to be held around early October, 2011, in...Las Vegas. They had briefly proposed a US show about 3 years ago and they are probably the only organization that would be able to pull it off.

I have not spoken to a single retailer that is planning on sending even one staff member to Interbike in Anaheim. Based on such conversations it seems very doubtful to me that attendance will be even 50% of the 2010 numbers. One of the main attractions of Las Vegas has been that it is a cheap trip for retailers. I suppose that the argument could be made that Las Vegas is TOO inexpensive so that retail employees with no buying power tend to overrun the show. But I tend to think that any bike shop employee presence at a trade show is good They see products that they will tell customers about.


Overall, the old system (prior to 1998) in which there were 3 regional shows (Anaheim, Chicago and Phildelphia) was the most convenient for retailers. Nobody had to travel very far to attend a good show. But vendors, understandably, did not like the idea of having to attend all three. That system collapsed when Interbike moved from Anaheim to Las Vegas (1998) and the other two shows rapidly folded because, for various reasons, Las Vegas was a better option for retailers. From a theoretical standpoint a mid-continent show in a place such as Kansas City or Dallas might be the shortest trip from most parts of the country. But those cities would not have the "Vegas magic" and would be a more expensive trip for retailers. Notwithstanding the exhorbitant fees that are charged vendors by the Sands Convention Center, Las Vegas wins by default. Add to that the fact that, with the desperate current economic situation of that city, the powers that be will be willing to offer some strong enticements to any organization that will keep an industry show there. The massive unfinished and bankrupt projects--the Echelon and Fontainebleau--stand as ominous and threatening reminders of what the future of the city will be if it loses its tourist and convention business.