OIA Director Issues Letter On Shifting Trade-Show Schedule

OIA Director Issues Letter On Shifting Trade-Show Schedule

Outdoor Industry Association Executive Director Amy Roberts issued a letter to its members January 5, further explaining the reasoning behind shifting the schedule of Outdoor Retailer Winter and Summer Market ahead by two months, starting in 2018.

The letter is as follows below:

Dear OIA Member Community,

Most of you have heard that Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is moving to June and Outdoor Retailer will produce Winter Market shows in November and January beginning in 2018. The date shifts are only part of the story; the change means the shows will have a different purpose as well.

Outdoor Retailer, Outdoor Industry Association and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance look forward to sharing more details about the move at the OIA Industry Breakfast on January 10. In advance of that conversation, we are sharing some of the data behind the decision including graphics (shown above and below) that illustrate order cycles against trade show timing. We also wanted to share thoughts from the OIA Board about the opportunity inherent in the date changes.

Originally, Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets were early season shows, but over the years, we’ve seen order cycles shift earlier and the show now serves as a place for marketing meetings, an industry gathering place and an opportunity for business principals to meet. But by that late in the season, most retailers have already made almost all buying decisions.

The move to earlier dates will offer the great majority of outdoor industry companies and retailers a clearer way to introduce and consider new product and initiate the ordering process. The success of the Grassroots Connect shows in the early November and June timeframes, clearly support our conclusion that many of our industry’s strongest specialty retailers favor an early show format and timing. The OutDoor show in Europe has also made the move to June.

In its current timeframe, Outdoor Retailer is a vibrant, healthy show. However, both Outdoor Retailer and OIA were hearing feedback more and more from members that the commitment to attend Outdoor Retailer was becoming more difficult to justify as the show was too far past most order deadlines. Members said that they remained committed to an industry gathering to ensure industry cohesion, but they needed the shows to be the right experience at the right time. (See how tradeshows now support sales cycles in the graphics below.)

Given these circumstances, Outdoor Retailer, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance and OIA came together with a shared commitment to ensure any trade show solution strengthened the relationships between the specialty retailer and vendor community. This led to a formal agreement between the three organizations to co-locate Grassroots Connect and Outdoor Retailer in June and November beginning in 2018. We believe this agreement is an incredible example of collaboration to allow for evolution and growth.

These moves mean:

Grassroots Connect and Outdoor Retailer will be at the front end of the season allowing retailers to see innovation and seasonal trends in one place before they make their buying decisions.
Vendors will be able to keep their current sales meeting cycle in May and November and carry that enthusiasm straight into Outdoor Retailer as their seasonal launch. We heard repeatedly from vendors that the ability to share new products and brand stories at the beginning of the cycle would deliver the ROI they are seeking.
The January event will allow companies with later product introduction and sales cycles to present to retailers during a time that makes sense for those categories.
Outdoor Retailer will continue to support the paddle community at the June 2018 show, recognizing the benefit for brands, retailers and the industry at large for all segments to access the cross-over markets. In addition, Outdoor Retailer will host an event later in the season for paddle brands and retailers to connect and write orders. Both OIA and Outdoor Retailer continue to have strategic discussions with paddle brands and retailers to develop a solution that will best meet their needs.
Industry and consumer-facing media will be able to preview and write about industry innovation and seasonal trends as they are launched with an ability to come to one place for an industry overview. This should broaden and deepen media coverage of products, enable our industry to reach more consumers and to share lifestyle, performance, sustainability and outdoor participation success stories.
Grassroots Connect and Outdoor Retailer will serve as the seasonal launch market weeks followed by the regional shows to provide the opportunity for continued order writing and deeper conversation with the knowledge of the breadth of the industry offering already in mind.
All retailers will have access to a day of dedicated education led by Grassroots Outdoor Alliance with support from OIA and OR. This day of education will take place in the one-day crossover between Grassroots Connect and Outdoor Retailer.
Finally, co-locating Grassroots Connect and Outdoor Retailer means that the industry cohesion between outdoor brands and specialty retailers will stay intact and remain a hallmark of who we are as a community. Accomplishing this aspect was front-of-mind as we have seen splintering occur in other tangential industries.

This decision was not made lightly or quickly. During the past 18 months, Outdoor Retailer and OIA sat down for in-person meetings with show attendees and conducted extensive research, talking with vendors and retailers about order deadlines, views of the return-on-investment of the current show timing and what would make the shows more valuable.

We also realized through this process that consumer demands and differing product cycles mean that two national shows, no matter the dates, no longer work for everyone in the outdoor industry. Outdoor Retailer will produce a late season opportunity specifically for paddlesports and continue with the January show which will offer an on-snow demo and provide an opportunity for show attendees who would like to introduce product not ready in November; suppliers can host marketing meetings and wrap up final orders.

June of 2018 is 18-months away. We wanted to give our members plenty of time to think about the change in show purpose and opportunity outlined above. What else would you want to see in these seasonal launch shows? How will you change your own approach to Outdoor Retailer in terms of what you show and what stories you tell about your brand? As a retailer, how can these launch events followed by regional show order-writing opportunities improve your offering to consumers?

Please email your questions to me (aroberts@outdoorindustry.org) and we will address as many as possible during the show next week. We look forward to being a part of a cohesive community and shows that return the value you need.

Amy Roberts Gordon Seabury
Executive Director OIA Board Chair on behalf of the OIA
OIA Board of Directors