High Point Premarket sponsors revise some event policies
HIGHLIGHT – In an effort to prevent Premarket from draining footfall in the Spring and Fall High Point markets, event sponsors have agreed to several new policies aimed at returning Premarket to its original intent before the pandemic . This involves in particular limiting the duration of the event and the number of nights covered by exhibitors sponsoring these guests.
For many years in the past, dealers would come to Premarket to preview the product about a month before the April and October markets. However, almost all of these dealers would return to the main event to make commitments on these products and also see other products from a much wider range of exhibitors.
Dealer habits began to change during the pandemic, particularly during the pre-market events of September 2020 and April 2021. Both saw record levels of dealer attendance as well as record numbers of exhibitors. .
In April for example, there were 337 exhibitors including 20 sponsor exhibitors. The latter generally pay hotel nights for a group of guests, including large retailers with significant purchasing power. Before the pandemic, only about a third of that number of exhibitors would be open at Premarket.
Last September there were around 300 dealerships in town for the event, and last April there were around 500 dealers in town, compared to the more typical 100 to 120. April or October market.
As of October 2020, only 70% to 75% of those Premarket dealers returned to see the sponsoring exhibitor, while a smaller number of uninvited retailers would not have returned to the market, officials said. This April, Premarket also extended to seven days, as some resellers started shopping on Tuesday or Wednesday before the official dates of the following Monday and Tuesday.
Officials also noted that more dealers have come to Premarket in the past two cycles to avoid the larger crowds in the regular market. But officials don’t want this to become a habit in the future, especially now that many people have been vaccinated and now that mask and social distancing requirements have eased as well.
“Many dealers have viewed Premarket as their one and only journey in a market cycle,” said Doug Bassett, chair of the Premarket committee overseeing the event. “The October market is the first opportunity we have to get people back to their normal buying behavior.”
To ease the premarket somewhat and encourage dealers to return to the spring and fall markets, officials are shortening the event to two days, September 13-14. The sponsor group also only covers the cost of rooms for guests on Sunday and Monday. In the past, some from further afield – say the west coast – received four or more nights.
Officials said it was important for dealers to come back to the market, not only to see the products they may have missed from sponsors and non-sponsors open to Premarket, but also to see products from the 1 600 exhibitors open in a typical market.
“We’re not trying to issue an edict here on dealer behavior,” Bassett said. “But we want to educate the dealers that the events of April and October are literally the goose that lays the golden eggs. This is when every showroom is open and when every showroom is ready for the market. And it’s really those two events – the April and October markets – that determine whether a dealer or exhibitor goes back on the cycle and says “yes, I have to go back to High Point in six months.”
In sponsor showrooms in particular, pre-market buyers can often see most, if not all, of the products that will be shown in April or October due to the sponsor’s commitment to be as close as possible marketing. While product availability in September may be affected by container availability and supply chain disruptions, it is expected that most new products will be there by the October market.
Bassett noted that September will also be a unique pre-market event in that it only occurs 14 weeks after the June 5-9 market, not to mention the Las Vegas market in between.
“Each sponsor is going to make an effort to be ready, but this is a unique pre-market because the previous market only took place in June and then you have the Las Vegas market in August,” said he declared. “We’ve never had such a tight schedule, and we’ve never had such a mess with the containers and ships that bring in the vast majority of introductions.
“So the policy (market ready) may not have changed, but the reality is that every sponsor and non-sponsor faces unique career challenges in getting their products to come here and accurately predict. when it will happen. “
Therefore, officials note, seeing the full product line from all exhibitors is another reason dealers need to return to the October market.
“The dealer who mistakenly comes to Premarket to replace the market is really getting a terrible deal,” added Bassett. “They probably only see a quarter of the showrooms they can see in the market. Many showrooms are also not ready to market or are missing products that would be there five weeks later, and they walk away with a bad taste in their mouths because they don’t feel like we take good care of them.
Tom Conley, CEO of the High Point Market Authority, pointed out that many people mistakenly believe that the same services are available both in the pre-market and in the market. This is not the case. Shuttles around town and to and from local airports are only available during the market. Likewise, the educational and entertainment events that many expect are only available at the market, not at the pre-market.
Buyers who frequent the regular market receive all of this and more, depending on the types of programs and services – not to mention celebrity guest appearances – offered in the market. Officials also noted that unlike a regular market, shoppers do not register at the premarket and therefore do not need a badge to enter various buildings in the market district.
Conley noted that as valuable as Premarket can be in terms of introducing buyers to new products, it was never designed to compete with or supplant the overall market experience.
“Any show or market is the sum of its total experience for the buyer,” Conley added. “And different buyers have different experiences, which is why there is so much variety in a typical market in terms of exhibits, food, entertainment and products. Premarket was designed to be a casual product introduction so that a number of resellers can view this product. Maybe some will get involved. But at the very least, they’ll come back to market and be able to make a solid commitment so that the manufacturer-seller can get a head start on their cuttings to make this product so that it can be delivered on time.
Officials noted that due to the disruption caused by the pandemic to market calendars in 2020 and this year, the September pre-market and October market will be the first normal market cycle in two years. Thus, it represents a chance for exhibitors and buyers to regain the sense of normalcy they had known before the pandemic.
“I think Premarket is a good thing and Premarket will continue, but we have all admitted the fact that the COVID-19 experience has changed things, and to some extent we would like to see it go back to how it was before. “said Conley.