FMI Looks for Trade Show Help

Discussion
Aug 09, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Supermarket News reports that the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is looking for an outside source to run or possibly acquire its annual trade show in Chicago.

A prime candidate, according to SN, is dmg world media, a San Francisco-based exhibition company, which is owned by Daily Mail and General Trust plc, London. The company
produces more than 300 conventions annually.

FMI, dmg and representatives of 15 major manufacturer exhibitors at the annual show are scheduled to meet this month as part of dmg’s due diligence before concluding a deal.

Moderator’s Comment: Will FMI and, more importantly, visitors and exhibitors, be better served by having a third-party run the annual grocery industry
convention? What is or rather should be the purpose of the convention?

– George Anderson – Moderator

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9 Comments on "FMI Looks for Trade Show Help"


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Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Over the years I’ve attended primarily international food exhibitions based in a variety of European cities. With few exceptions, they are organised by specialist companies who achieve extremely good results in terms of attendance and, anecdotally, business deals. As others have said, networking is of prime importance and it generally takes quite a long time for a meeting to lead to something. Sometimes, of course, it is impossible to attribute a deal to attendance at a specific event and you have to look at your overall marketing efforts and connections. Specialist companies in this field are, in my view, an excellent example of profit making (near) perfect. Organisers need know little more than the basics of the industry in which they’re working; far more important is knowing how to make a show exciting and ensure that the most important and relevant people turn up. If the FMI links up with the right organisers, it will be of benefit to everyone.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 6 months ago
As a long-time veteran of the FMI convention – as retailer, tech supplier in a booth, ad agency rep, speaker, food supplier in a booth, and consultant – I must agree with most of the comments already made. However, we’re missing something important, and that’s the why – and why not – to send buyers to the convention. Regvis and Rick touched briefly on the “why,” but allow me to expand: Whoever a retailer sends on this expensive trip is expected to represent their company as completely and broadly as possible, and to bring back information for colleagues who didn’t attend. In my earliest years of attending as a retailer, I was expected to create a list of objectives by consulting with my fellow department heads while looking at a list of vendors and workshops. Then, I was expected to make a comprehensive report upon my return. The “why not” for retailers sending representatives these days is that attendees treat it like a vacation. They spend little time on the display floors, and instead find… Read more »
Lyle Larson
Guest
Lyle Larson
15 years 6 months ago
It is getting more costly each year to send people to these shows. I agree that it serves different purposes for different levels of personnel within most companies, but when the budget gets tight, it’s the people at the lower end that get cut out and they are the ones that really benefit the most from the learning aspect of the show. As far as the executive teams and the consultants, interaction and sharing of ideas is extremely important, but again there is very little space devoted to meeting in a relaxed environment to have those discussions. Trying to have a beneficial conversation standing up at the Miller concession just doesn’t do it. I believe that this FMI Show should be dealt with just like taxes: the more you lower them the more people will be able to attend the show and then everyone with come out a winner. I remember the old days of the car shows. It was a spectacular. Then every year it was the same old show. Everyone was in the… Read more »
David Livingston
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

I don’t think it matters much to the multitudes that attend the FMI conference what entity runs it. We all go for different reasons. For me, it’s a good chance to network and meet the heroes of the industry. I wish it would go on for one more day because it’s getting so big you really need 3-4 days solid to experience everything. The purpose of the convention is to put me, along with all my clients and potential clients, in one place at one time with minimal investment on my part.

Reg Hitchcock
Guest
Reg Hitchcock
15 years 6 months ago

I am amazed the FMI has lasted this long since buyers don’t normally attend and that is why we pay so much money for booths, displays, travel, etc. For years, this show has been geared for supermarket executives rather than the buyers. A supermarket exec can appreciate a new item, say, but don’t dare tell that to a buyer because he will take umbrage. Why don’t the buyers attend the Show?? This is what is needed, purely and simply.

Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

I believe that, if polled, regular FMI Show attendees would agree with David…the number one reason for going is to meet with clients and vendors. Although not to be dismissed by any means, all the educational sessions and exhibits are there in support of that primary goal — to attract people to one place.

And yet, FMI does very little to facilitate actual, serious face-to-face sit down sessions in an atmosphere conducive to relaxed deal-making (except for those willing and able to bring their own conference tables). Realizing that the economics of running the event require that money is generated, perhaps a third party will be bring more a objective eye. My suggestion would be to think more from the vantage point of average attendees and design an environment that encourages and eases buyer/seller interaction. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Trade shows are most effective when participation is maximized. If selling the show means fees will be raised, participation might be reduced. If it cares about having the best trade shows, FMI will make sure the fee structure is controlled.

Dan Gilmore
Guest
Dan Gilmore
15 years 6 months ago

Trade shows and conferences are under pressure across the board, for a variety of reasons. Attendance has been down for the last several years. I am not sure of FMI’s trends, but it is harder and harder to turn a solid profit on these events.

Agreeing with one of the author contributors, my limited experiences with FMI was that the show could have done more to facilitate interaction and drive more value for exhibitors, who in the end are really footing the bill. Also, as the world of conferences is changing, often associations like FMI are not well equipped to make the necessary changes, both in terms of expertise and staff.

But, if true, think it is probably a good thing.

William Dupre
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

First thing to point out is the FMI Show is an educational and learning show, not a selling show. Changing the format would add huge tax liabilities.

Secondly, I think it has become same ol’ stuff year after year. A new management team could bring new life to this event.

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