A popular retail event takes its trade show on the road
For years, ASD Market Week, the most comprehensive U.S. trade show for consumer merchandise, has provided an essential opportunity for vendors to connect with retailers and wholesalers. In fact, these events help generate a large portion of exhibiting businesses’ annual revenue and can be crucial for reaching sales goals.
When COVID-19-related restrictions continued looming in early 2021, the ASD team needed an approach to help their audience drive much-needed business since a core driver for buyers is all about discovery as well as to touch and feel products before purchase.
How could this ASD event create productive connections in a safe way beyond going virtual?
By transforming the show into an exciting regional event!
This multi-city, regional tour brought the shopping experience to the audience and provided ASD with an appealing alternative to its spring show. The team provided ways for the audience to meet and drive business while protecting the equity of the Market Week brand.
The team managed to re-skin the multi-day, expansive Market Week experience into smaller, yet impactful, buying experiences in Orlando and Dallas. The organizers compared this to “putting the footprint of a Target into a 7-Eleven.”
Strategic and safe
Knowing vendors and buyers would feel safer traveling to a regional event, the team developed a heat map based on two years of Market Week attendance. This intel led to hosting two safe yet vibrant events in Dallas and Orlando. All protocols were communicated prior to the events so audiences knew what to expect.
To supplement marketing efforts, ASD took a ‘co-location’ approach where the organizers worked with local venues and other concurrent shows to cross-promote. This strategy gave the event and local venues more exposure, and it gave attendees even more reason to attend. For example, in Dallas, coordinating with a similar event at the Dallas Market Center meant that attendees could enjoy two productive, overlapping buying opportunities. A big win for attendees and vendors!
Virtual connections and clear communications
In keeping with the times and being mindful of exhibitors who couldn’t attend in person, the team provided virtual exhibitor listings for remote vendors to participate. On-site, a booth dedicated to these virtual exhibitors provided additional visibility to potential buyers.
Communication was a key to the event’s success and ensured a valuable customer experience. Because the pre-event marketing was compressed from 20 weeks to 12, the team developed a dedicated call center with prompt customer service. This approach led to a thriving ASD Road Show that featured 200+ vendors in a safe and efficient shopping experience.
ASD prioritizes understanding its audience of buyers and sellers. The team knew that vendors wanted to present their products in person and have conversations face to face. Similarly, the buyers wanted to touch and feel the products in person. Designing this road show brought value to current and new customers by making vital connections possible at an almost impossible time.
Attendance was 35% above ASD’s projected goal in both Dallas and Orlando with 33% of net new attendees and a buyer-to-vendor ratio that exceeded expectations. Taking the show to conveniently located cities worked, but people ended up driving much farther than expected — another confirmation of the desire to connect face to face.
During the road show, ASD promoted its upcoming Market Week in Vegas slated for August. Attendees expressed interest and excitement to attend, which confirmed that this road show didn’t cannibalize future events.
Because of the overall success of this new approach, the ASD team is excited to explore hosting additional regionalized events that bring the experience directly to customers. ASD is also looking toward the future and how best to innovate the experience for both the vendors and attendees.