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Hats off to Top of the World.

Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show Gives Memorable ‘Encore Performance’
Strong Companies, Strong Categories Create Momentum for 2011
February 4, 2011

In sports, they say the only thing harder than winning a championship is defending one. In sports trade shows, the same rule applies. The 2011 Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show opened on January 17th to high expectations thanks to the watershed event it hosted in 2010. The industry consensus was that those expectations were not only met—in many cases they were exceeded. From opening morning, when the registration line snaked out the main door, to the close of business on Day Three, retailers and exhibitors barely had time to take a breath.

“After the big show in 2010, when attendance jumped by more than 35 percent, we basically played ‘Can You Top This’ all year long,” explains Show Director Stanley Schwartz. “We focused on improving the things that worked, and on introducing new components to the show that would enhance the experience.”

Among the enhancements were a more business-oriented agenda for the Industry Luncheon Panels and a new venue for the opening night Tailgate Party, which moved from the exhibit hall to China Grill. The panels (Looking Beyond the Logo and The Tailgater’s Handbook—moderated by Sports Authority founder Jack Smith) got a big thumbs-up from retailers.

Another busy show for Rico/Tag Express.

“We have already begun working on an expanded educational program for 2012,” says Smith. “And the show will be looking for a more spacious venue for its next party!”

As for new components to the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show, the real attention-grabber was the STYLE Show (presented by Corona Extra and Corona Light). The tailgate-themed, runway-style fashion show trained the industry spotlight on licensed apparel and accessories. (Go to Licensing Outlook.com for the STYLE Show highlights.) The buyers who filled the bleachers for each of the five 20-minute performances got an eyeful of product from surrounding exhibitors. Many went directly from the STYLE Show to the booths of participating companies to buy their products.

“Several buyers commented that this type of STYLE show was something they could actually do in their own store parking lot,” reports Show Director Hardy Katz. “Well, that was the idea behind the STYLE Show. There is a dimension to merchandising licensed product that very few retailers have explored. Hopefully we have opened up their eyes to the possibilities.”

As for the overall health of the industry, the post-show numbers tell a very positive story. The total number of buyers who picked up badges and attended the show at least one of the three days was 5,506. That is up 23% from 2010. That number does not include guests, day badges, media, manufacturers reps, or exhibitors.

On the exhibitor side, there were 65 more companies showing in 2011 than in 2010, with the number of booths rising 14% to 562 (each 10 x 10 unit counting as a “booth”). In all, 34 licensors were represented at the show.

Trash talk in the Fan Basket booth.

In terms of categories, 77% of exhibitors classified themselves as “licensed products” and 17% were specific to tailgating. Needless to say, a high percentage of the licensed exhibitors sell to the tailgate market; more than 100 booths carried items that could squeeze into the tailgating category.

Among the many “tailgate/licensed” exhibitors enjoying steady traffic was Kijaro, which debuted college licensed folding chairs and hammocks to an enthusiastic retail audience. “It’s exciting that people were so excited about our products,” says Dacia Boehmler. “This is our first year as a college licensee, so it’s been great to talk to buyers from all over the country. Being here helped us gauge what people want.”

The engine that drives the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show is the spirit of innovation. Fans want to see new ideas and new products on store shelves, and that is the overarching focus of the industry professionals who make the trek to Las Vegas each January.

“Our buyers represented more than 70 different channels of distribution, in almost every retail category, from big-box to grocery, convenience to sporting goods and book stores, to mom-and-pop,” says National Sales Director Matt Lawson. “Our exhibitors brought thousands of debut products under more than two dozen major sports licenses. The result was another great show.”

The most impressive number to Lawson?

“That’s easy,” he smiles. “Here we are a couple of weeks later and we have 78 percent renewals.”

So it should come as no surprise when show-producer Showproco announces that the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show 2012 (Wed., January 11 – Fri., January 13, 2012) will expand from one hall to two at Mandalay Bay. Official word is expected shortly.




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