It is a sign of the times that trade shows for most industries have become smaller and Glee is an example of such a trend. With a smaller show, comes the obvious reduction in the number of exhibitors, this trend naturally continues with fewer buyers visiting the shows.
As more garden centers are absorbed into large companies, this ultimately means a central buyer for the group so there will be fewer independent buyers.
On a recent trip to Paris to another trade show, I was surprised by the sheer size of the exhibition. The halls were huge with very large stands set within them. It reminded me of years past where I was a buyer for a couple of shops and you were entertained by companies who had fully functional kitchens and lounges on their trade stands. By contrast at Glee some of the big players were not evident at all, but those who were there, had considerably smaller stands. The only exception to this that I could see was the Guardman stand, although not overly large it had a closed off area, with a ‘kitchen area’ able to provide refreshments for the weary buyer, but they were an exception.
Even though Glee was a smaller show, it should not be regarded as a negative progression, the most obvious benefit being that the buyer can see more in a shorter time. The important thing to remember is that with any show it depends on what you are looking for. If you go away inspired by a new range or product or discover one company promoting a new product that excites you or there is a seminar, which has invaluable information, then it may have been worthwhile. I do realize that the shows I used to go to for buying purposes was always to see new product launches and it this industry that is not always the case.
However, what does this mean for the industry as a whole? After all we are a nation of gardeners; we have a wonderful history of gardening in this country and are very proud of our heritage. We have produced some of the world’s finest garden landscapes but our industry desperately needs to be better understood and recognized by both public and government.
With the amount now spent on line by consumers and the vast availability of products all at the touch of a button, we are told that in the future less people will actually ‘go out’ to buy. But we are by nature tactile, because as humans we have senses, we will never I believe get away from the need to want to touch or see something before we buy it.
So the question is; will the trade show in its current format be a thing of the past? Or in the future will economics ensure that trade shows are re-vamped and re formatted, but which way will they go, a return to large shows and displays or sadly smaller with more reliance on the internet?
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