For the 2017 Long Beach summer show, Agenda switched things up, transforming the traditional business-to-business model into an open-to-the-public festival for the first time ever.
Long Beach lit up Saturday, with crowds totaling 15k waiting in line out the doors of the convention center to connect with all their favorite brands. The day also featured a live music component, with the likes of Tyler the Creator, Ludacris, Cam’ron, Lil Dicky, and special performance by A$AP Rocky, gracing the outdoor music stages, and drawing a diverse audience of all ages.
“We went in with an 8 to 10 thousand person goal, so to come out with more than that is great, we’re hyped,” said Aaron Levant, Agenda Show founder. “From the initial feedback, everyone was excited. It gave us the opportunity to bring in a couple of brands that had been out of the mix for a while because they’ve been focusing on consumers, specifically Hurley and Volcom. To get those guys back in solely because they were excited about the consumer portion of the show was great.”
Initial feedback from those brands, and other brands who had been on the fence about the consumer day, has been positive, Levant said.
Brands in attendance during the first two days of Agenda’s industry-facing show were given the option to switch out their booths to create a more inviting consumer experience with in-season product, contests, and other experiential events. While a few companies opted out of the third day, the resounding consensus from those we spoke with on Saturday was that the addition was a logical evolution and great way to continue growing the industry’s presence among youth. About 400 brands total exhibited at the festival, according to Levant.
"With the drastic changes the state of retail has seen recently, tradeshows have to evolve to remain effective,” said Brent Futagaki, brand manager for Acembly. “The Agenda Festival consumer day was a progressive idea in the right direction, and I was impressed with the energy of the consumers. The broad range of consumers I talked to at Agenda were hyped to connect with the brands, and genuinely stoked to see the new products. It was refreshing to see, and I think there will be more opportunities for brands and local retailers that embrace it moving forward."
Agenda partnered with several larger retailers, such as Zumiez, Jack’s and Pacsun for the consumer-facing activation, and has plans to continue integrating more shops into the equation in future iterations, Levant said. Brands also took the opportunity to team up with their best accounts, like Levis and Los Angeles shop Kingswell.
Some of the standouts from the day included a live painting installation by renowned artist Kevin Lyons at the Stance booth, RVCA‘s music stage on the show floor featuring several of their AMP ambassadors, long lines inside the Enclave section for Hypland Worldwide’s T-shirt airbrushing service, and adidas’ shop-friendly showroom, hoop-shooting station and appearance from Nakel Smith.
Emerica had its entire team on hand for signings, skate legend Rodney Mullen made an appearance at Dwindle’s booth, and many brands like Salty Crew, Richer Poorer, Tavik, and Electric had interactive contests and fun activities set up to attract and engage attendees.
“The demographic diversity made the day exciting, and it’s always fun to fit our sunglasses to so many different faces,” said Ian Foulke, Electric global lifestyle and surf marketing manager. “I think all the vendors were unsure of what to expect, but we were excited to see consumers come out in numbers, ready to spend money and engage with their favorite brands."
Salty Crew Founder CJ Hobgood said that he thought everyone was intrigued with what the consumer day could mean for the future of trade shows and other similar events. While vibes were high on Saturday, the biggest takeaway from the three-day event remained the old school connection of brands to retailers, he said.
“The highlight for me was actually seeing and connecting with the people who are selling your product — the ‘boots on the ground,'” he said. “Connecting with them, and bringing a greater experience to them with the brand’s story, names, and faces, and asking them about their consumers, was by far the best part for me.”
Agenda Show will continue to evolve and improve the Festival concept, and for now it’s slated as an annual event, with consideration for a bi-annual presence, Levant said. Other improvements could include expanding the festival into a two-day gathering, providing additional opportunities for a wider range of musical acts and activations.
Levant sees a huge potential for taking the festival to different regional markets like New York and Miami, but says Agenda will focus on perfecting the Long Beach iteration over the next 12 months.
“We are always improving and trying to get better at what we do,” Levant said.”Now the brands see the opportunity, and are going to do a better job of bringing something special next time. I feel good about where it’s going. After everything has been flat for the past year, it’s really exciting to grow again.”
More on Agenda Long Beach 2017 from TRANSWORLD BUSINESS