SEMA News—October 2013
By Mike Imlay
The New Products Showcase
Connecting Buyers, Sellers and Media at the SEMA Show
If you’re a SEMA Show exhibitor, product exposure is the name of the game. Your number-one goal is attracting buyers and media to your booth, where you can discuss and demonstrate your new and featured products in person. If, on the other hand, you’re a buyer or media attendee, your priority is saving time and legwork in discovering the latest and greatest product innovations amid more than a million square feet of booths and exhibits vying for your attention. Fortunately, there’s an efficient solution for everyone: The SEMA Show’s New Products Showcase.
For exhibitors, buyers and media alike, the New Products Showcase has become a focal point of the SEMA Show. Survey data indicates that 87% of buyers consider new products their first mission when the Show opens. In fact, it’s common strategy among buyers and media to head for the Showcase first, before they do anything else, because it allows them to review more than 2,000 of the aftermarket’s hottest items in one fell swoop. This helps them decide which booths they will visit during the remainder of the Show. Obviously, exhibitors who display product in the Showcase have an edge.
“Open to all exhibitors and located in the upper level at the east end of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s South Hall, the approximately 25,000-sq.-ft. New Products Showcase plays a vital role in connecting buyers, sellers and media,” said Peter MacGillivray, SEMA vice president of communications and events. “If an exhibitor wants to get a product out in front of buyers and the press, entering the New Products Showcase is a no-brainer. An overwhelming majority of buyers look to the Showcase in hopes of finding products that they can add to their businesses, while media attendees make use of the Showcase to cover the latest product trends.”
Given those facts, Show planners do everything they can to encourage exhibitors to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity, said SEMA Show Director Tom Gattuso. “While the New Products Showcase currently boasts more than 2,000 products from hundreds of exhibitors, we still would like to see even higher levels of participation. Almost without exception, exhibitors who actually do participate report better Show results compared with those who don’t.”
The New Products Showcase is far more than a static display of aftermarket parts. It’s actually a dynamic, interactive exhibit space that continues to pay dividends long after the Show ends.
First, the cost to exhibitors is nominal—there is no charge for the first new product, and additional products can be entered for $75 a piece. SEMA has also streamlined the process of entering products, with professional teams standing by to help save time. In addition, the SEMA Show has partnered with UPS to simplify return shipping after the Show closes.
The New Products Showcase also makes use of laser scanners and bar codes so that buyers and media can capture product information at the speed of light as they move from product to product. That information can be e-mailed to a specified address or downloaded in several formats, including one for smartphones. Exhibitors, in turn, can look at the data to identify potential new customers and even new market segments. More extensive data fields are also being added into the product descriptions this year to improve compatibility with industry data standards.
Over the years, Show planners have also worked hard to further promote media access for exhibitors, developing a system whereby every new product is professionally photographed and posted so that media can download product content all year long. Moreover, all the photographed products find their way into SEMA News, the association’s trade magazine, which is seen by 18,000 industry professionals monthly. Show planners have also made the Showcase a focal point for international media, who provide feedback for the SEMA Show’s annual Global Media Awards.
But the media exposure doesn’t stop there. The New Products Showcase media efforts this year include an arrangement with Crane Communications’ Autoweek magazine, which expects its audience for SEMA new-product content to reach into the millions. Under the agreement, all Showcase products will automatically be enrolled at no cost into Autoweek’s exclusive SEMA Collection digital marketplace, where the products will be promoted to enthusiasts throughout the year. (To learn more about Autoweek’s SEMA Collection digital marketplace, visit here.)
Beyond products debuting for the very first time, the New Products Showcase also encompasses a Featured Product section for previously introduced products that aftermarket companies also might wish to highlight. “Introduced two years ago, this has turned out to be a very successful addition to the Showcase,” Gattuso said. “Now, if a company has a product that’s not necessarily new but still wants to Showcase it, they have that chance as well. It might be an especially innovative legacy or best-selling product. Whatever the case, there’s no better way to draw buyer and media attention to it.”
The New Products Showcase is primed to become more important to SEMA Show attendees this year than ever before.
“Exhibit space is currently 12% higher than at this time last year, making the 2013 SEMA Show on track to include more than 2,400 exhibiting companies—the highest in the SEMA Show’s 47-year history,” said McGillivray. “As a result, Show organizers have shifted away from a sales strategy and focused instead on helping exhibitors and buyers connect with one another during the event. The trend over the last few years has been one of increased industry optimism. More than 130,000 industry professionals typically attend the SEMA Show, making it the largest annual gathering of small businesses in the United States. Manufacturers and buyers come to the SEMA Show to do business. With a higher number of exhibitors at the upcoming Show, we expect the New Products Showcase to be bigger and more exciting than ever. More important, however, we will be promoting it as one of the best ways to introduce manufacturers, buyers and media to each other.”
Although the Show is right around the corner, it’s never too late for exhibitors to get new or featured products into the Showcase.
“We do have a deadline to take advantage of some price discounts if they have more than one product they wish to enter,” Gattuso said. “However, exhibitors are always allowed to enter one product for free right up to the last day of the Show. So if they miss a deadline associated with a price increase, there’s still no charge if they’re exhibiting just one product. They can Showcase in either the new or featured product category. It’s all up to them.”
Showcase Tips for Exhibitors
To enter new or featured products in the upcoming Showcase, go here. Online registration is easy and takes just minutes. To get the most from your Showcase experience, be sure to read all of the rules and guidelines associated with the registration process.
Of course, drawing attendees to your exhibit space through the New Products Showcase is only the first step. Once at your booth, buyers and media should be able to immediately see the products that brought them there displayed prominently.
“Avoid the common pitfall of cluttering your booth with every product you offer,” suggested Gattuso. “Lead with the core products you showcased and use them as conversation starters to present your business and other related products in a meaningful way.”