Intimate SGMA trend event mixes up Big Apple media with manufacturers

The third annual TrendCast event brought together media with sports and fitness manufacturers in a casual setting, sprawling its exhibitors across the Reebok Sports Club in New York on June 8 with show-and-tell interaction between five dozen editors and about 20 brands.
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The third annual TrendCast event brought together media with sports and fitness manufacturers in a casual setting, sprawling its exhibitors across the Reebok Sports Club in New York on June 8 with show-and-tell interaction between five-dozen editors and about 20 brands.

In addition to the three-hour evening TrendCast event, organized by the True North Brand Group and supported by the SGMA, this year an additional so-called FitCast event took place in a separate room for two hours in the afternoon. The goal of both events is to showcase new lifestyle, fitness and sports products -- mostly before they appear in stores -- to introduce editors of New York-based consumer media to the product for possible inclusion in holiday issues.

"We want TrendCast to be a success because when it's in New York, it's literally just a few blocks from where the media are based," said Colleen Logan, vice president of marketing for Icon Fitness, which has been at all TrendCast events since it began and, this year, also at FitCast.

"I think one could say that TrendCast and new this year, Fitcast, are a success in the making," Logan added. "They are genuinely getting better and better -- better attendance, better locations."

According to editors and others SNEWS® spoke with, FitCast's afternoon scheduling unfortunately made it more difficult to build attendance. Also, with only three official exhibitors -- Icon, Octane Fitness and Concept2 -- the draw was perhaps not as huge, although exhibitors said that allowed them lengthy personal time with major editors from the likes of Elle, Vogue, Fitness, Self and others.

"FitCast is a great idea. We absolutely want to give editors and fitness writers a chance to test our equipment, so while there were few people there, the ones who were there were calm, relaxed and in an information-acquiring mood," Logan said.

Horizon's representative Brian Meehan underscored the ability to develop personal relationships with people when you are in an informal and face-to-face setting.

"In today's world, it's difficult to develop relationships with reporters through e-mail and voicemail. It's too impersonal. That's why an event like TrendCast is so valuable," said Meehan. "It creates an environment where you can develop one-on-one relationships with key media contacts at major media sources. In less than three hours, I developed contacts that would normally take me months to cultivate."

If they had paid to also attend TrendCast, FitCast exhibitors had their equipment transported from the upstairs group-cycling room where the afternoon event was held to the evening's more highly attended TrendCast event in the restaurant-lounge area of the club. TrendCast exhibitors included first-timer Horizon Fitness (which only had brochures and no equipment), as well as Princeton-Tec, Textronics, Hummer Global Footwear, Volkl Tennis, Sigg, Dermatone, Numetrex, Tecnica, Tubbs, Illumnite and Neva. Attending media grew to include representatives from the CBS Early Show, MTV, The Wall Street Journal, Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Prevention, GQ, Women's Health, Best Life, Good Housekeeping, Health, Cosmo Girl, Family Circle, Popular Science and Stuff Magazine.

In addition to the evening's informal schmooze with editors and companies, an industry design firm, Rocketfish, was there to talk to the media about trends and where the market seems to be headed. Said T.J. Gray, a Rocketfish principle, "The trend toward more user-specific products as well as customizable, lightweight products continues to grow within the sports performance and lifestyle marketplace."

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Although FitCast seemed like a good idea, separating the two concepts diluted the editors and the exhibitors too much. No editor could come for one, and then hang around for an hour between the two, then check out the second, so it was a matter of choosing and, when it comes down to it, dropping in after work for an hour or so would likely be the choice many would make. Better would be to simply have them all at the same time, but create a FitCast area to make it easier for those fitness-centric editors to focus on. Nevertheless, that criticism aside, the casual schmooze-and-cruise atmosphere makes such an event valuable for both sides of the table since it's less hectic than trade shows and doesn't require as much commitment. One aside: Horizon coming without equipment may have kept costs down but was a bit of a why-bother; in fact, just having brochures and pictures is something that other fitness exhbitors, who spent the time and bother to get equipment there, could have found quite insulting and also is something that is in conflict with the spirit of the hands-on nature of the event. If a company of any kind is going to show, it should also be required to have something for attendees to touch, feel and try, and that is something the SGMA and True North should insist on.

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