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August 29, 2019

My Summary of SuperZoo, the National Show for Pet Retailers

MHT Partners  | Consumer Investment Bank

I attended SuperZoo in Vegas last week and came away with the following notes and thoughts:

  • There seemed to be a slight decrease in traffic from last year’s show. Additionally, there were a few notable absences of larger companies that have traditionally exhibited. The latter is probably symptomatic of the situation facing many consumer tradeshows – retailers are dwindling, certain shows are increasingly less about writing orders and more about efficiently meeting and catching up with valued relationships, and in certain cases, demonstrating to retailers “we’re still here!” The return on investment from buying a booth versus spending a comparable amount on SEO, etc., is increasingly more difficult to calculate.
  • Like numerous other consumer trade shows these days, CBD-related companies and products were ubiquitous. I couldn’t help but wonder, however, as my senses were barraged by CBD signage, namely, (i) what’s differentiated here?, and (ii) with transparency all the rage these days, do these vendors know the source and quality of their CBD (where was the hemp grown, what was the soil quality, were there any contaminants that found their way into the plant along with nutrients and trace elements, etc.? With respect to “what’s differentiated”, the answer is oftentimes, “not much.” This answer, in turn, leads one to believe that large retailers will let many of the smaller CBD-specialized vendors battle things out, and once retailers figure out what consumers want and the science has evolved more, will simply rely on large, trusted, existing vendors (who already have the consumers’ trust) to supply them CBD products (e.g., take your existing best-selling chew and add some CBD powder to it). With respect to “know your source?” an admittedly informal and unscientific survey I took of several smaller vendors also revealed a common answer of “not really, or not entirely.”
  • Broadly speaking, nothing revolutionary was apparent, but rather the typical “incremental” improvement. This dynamic, on a floor laden with vendors who, for the most part is selling products that look and feel the same, really underscores the importance and value in vendors having diverse channel distribution, and relationships and trust with the right buyers at the right retailers. These pieces in place drive scale and growth potential, and in turn drive value.

I capped off my 48 hours in Vegas with our annual cocktail event – great way to end and thank you for all who attended! I welcome further discussions with whom I met and re-connected (clawson@mhtpartners.com).

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