Something new this way comes: Tradeshows highlight latest concession products

Columns

With another ShoWest and ShowCanada down, we know the value of industry conventions. We see multiple business partners in one venue, we attend seminars about industry trends, and we attend the tradeshow. The tradeshow provides the opportunity to actually communicate in person with the people that we do business with on a daily basis. But the tradeshow is also the venue that allows us to see new products and services, and that’s the core of its value.

It’s not always easy to find new products that have applications to your business. The barrage of new products and programs can be relentless for buyers, but their effectiveness and profitability may be more suitable for other venues, not theatres. What tradeshows do is help narrow the search down, for products that have potentially been vetted by peers or products that are offered by veteran suppliers who understand the industry.

New products were presented at ShoWest this year in both of these categories, and I have to start with a product from Texas. If you have sold concession products in Texas, then you know how popular large pickles are in this state. Yes, they have an audience elsewhere, but here they are almost required. Texas Tito’s introduced a new product at ShoWest, an individual pickle packed in no brine. Texas Tito’s sells pickles in multiple venues and their new product and packaging, along with the display, offer an interesting shakeup to the big pickle. No more fishing out the big pickle from the brine bucket, making a mess. It could be a winner.

Healthy snacks at the concession stand have been reviewed in this column many times and the national concern over obesity continues to rise. The health cost of obesity is putting pressure on all venues, entertainment included, to consider alternatives. Nestle promoted its Nesquik Chocolate Milk and Juicy Juice beverages as healthy beverage alternatives for kids. The fact that the products are offered by Nestle, a veteran supplier and clear supporter of the industry, makes it easier for buyers to consider their benefits. Nestle is building programs around both products to work in theatres.

Coke also jumped in on the healthy beverage push and was highlighting its new vitaminwater zero line, a very popular product with no calories. Using its popular Coke Zero lead, Coke is hoping to expand its sales of vitaminwater to those who want the water but not the sugar. Again, Coke is a longtime supplier to the industry, and buyers count on tradeshows to learn about new products from trusted partners.

There were many other new products introduced such as new candy items and new popping oils. They were sampled at tradeshow booths and they were highlighted in industry magazines, including ours. Many companies use large industry conventions such as ShoWest to formally introduce new products or make announcements about big events. This has been the norm for the last several years, with the digital revolution producing big press releases around ShoWest. For the concession industry, this practice has been more low-key but important nonetheless.

Conventions and tradeshows help industry members meet, profile, compare and shop, all at the same time in one convenient place. This year was no exception and the tradeshow was exceptionally well-attended as one of the many parts of ShoWest. ShowCanada accomplished the same things with an emphasis on the Canadian marketplace and its particular suppliers.

For potential crossover products which may not have been tried in theatres at all, the very large National Restaurant Association (NRA) will hold its big annual convention and tradeshow in Chicago in mid-May. The timing and venue will also cross over with the Candy and Snack Show. Together, these events offer another opportunity for buyers to shop and see and taste potential new concession offerings that might work for a cinema concession stand.
The NRA is the largest food tradeshow to take place in the U.S., spanning the entire McCormick Center. The Candy and Snack Show is also large and very focused on a category that is quite important to theatre concession revenue generation. These shows have coordinated their timing at McCormick for the last three years to allow buyers to really benefit from a trip to Chicago. Last year attendance was lower, as were the number of suppliers exhibiting. However, both shows are advertising an expected strong showing this year as the economy has improved.

Conventions and their accompanying tradeshows are great places for buyers and suppliers to come together as an industry. ShoWest was very busy this year and will move to Caesar’s Palace under NATO’s direction in 2011. The change will most likely be a rejuvenating one for the convention and one you will not want to miss. Those details will be highlighted later this year as convention details are firmed up.

Please send any comments to Antia Watts at anitaw@reactornet.com.