Marketing misbehavior

If you’ve noticed, market dates for the regional market shows never overlap -until now. That’s because there’s an established date committee (hosted by the New York Fashion Council) to prevent schedule conflicts between the major regional markets. The New York markets are a given, the regional markets consist of Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles. Recently however, AmericasMart in Atlanta has become something of a bad boy by reneging on the agreements. This has upset a lot of people. From WWD:

AmericasMart has changed Atlanta’s August 2007 dates three times in the past six months. The new dates, Aug. 18 to 21, overlap with FashionCenterDallas market, Aug. 19 to 22. Offering many of the same lines and targeting some of the same Sun Belt buyers, the two markets have a long rivalry. Feelings are running high, and many observers call Atlanta’s move a bullying tactic.

Atlanta has instituted new strategies in marketing their show too that FashionCenterDallas would do well to take notes if it isn’t too late. I got two entirely different mail pieces (one at home, one at work) for the AmericasMart show -but none from Dallas. Actually, I never get promotional mail pieces in advance of any of the shows. I also got a promotional email from an independent contract promoter in support of a companion event (Atlanta’s International Fashion Week). The latter was only remarkable in that it was poorly designed being the longest, most cluttered and unattractive email I’ve ever gotten from an organization.

While I can concur with others who think that “changing a market date change three months out is reckless and irresponsible” and I can completely understand why some describe Atlanta’s strategy as a bullying tactic or dirty pool, is it possible that this could this be a sign of a return to regionalism? Again from WWD, one buyer says:

“I know very few buyers that go to both Dallas and Atlanta,” said Jan Bilthouse, owner of two Atlanta specialty stores, who also had an AmericasMart showroom for more than 10 years before closing it in February 2006 and who still shops AmericasMart. “It’s far more common that they go to both Atlanta and New York or Dallas and New York.”

Manufacturers are less acquiescing since Atlanta’s strategy will cost them significant amounts of money. Those who have always shown in both Atlanta and Dallas will have to double their pre-production sampling budgets in addition to buying and shipping duplicate showrooms to say nothing of staffing to cover both markets (see a related free article from Trade Show Week). Many justifiably resent the additional costs that Atlanta’s strategy is imposing upon them. Consequently, Atlanta’s strategy could backfire.

Lang [Mon Cheri] is deciding how to split the line. Lang said his size makes him one of “the whales that pay the big rent” at the trade shows, and he has been leading the charge among exhibitors to protest the move…He contended that unless Atlanta changes back the dates, he and other manufacturers will leave the mart. Abandoning Atlanta for Dallas is one option, but he said leaving both to make Chicago their primary August market is also “a very good possibility.”

While the fallout will leave a lot of dead bodies lying around, there’s one positive element. Exhibitors are sufficiently disgruntled that one of them has started blogging. Imagine that!

What’s next? Will suppliers get email addresses, set up web pages, return phone calls courteously and in a timely fashion?

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  1. Vesta says:

    “Will suppliers get email addresses, set up web pages, return phone calls courteously and in a timely fashion?”

    Ha! Dream on. Apparel industry suppliers are so deep in their own delusion that they don’t even realize that they’re dinosaurs. When shopping for my ERP system (which I *will* write a post about, but the dust is still settling), I realized that even the apparel tech companies have no clue about the needs of modern, internet-age companies. Good grief.

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