It's an opening question heard all over trade show floors: "Seen anything new?" And we at SNEWS® have come to find it distasteful. Every trade show, the same question, over and over again from retailers, manufacturers, and fellow press. "Seen anything new or hot?" Heck, even we've been known to utter the dreaded words ourselves. The implication is that unless something is new, innovative, eye-catching, and hot, it's not worth talking about or even noticing.
At both the last two Outdoor Retailer trade shows and then again at this year's SIA as well as at all the fitness shows like Health & Fitness Expo and IHRSA, the floor buzz is pretty much the same: Nothing really new, pretty flat, nothing exciting, somewhat boring, why bother…
Excuse us? If we require glitz, glamour and eye-catching innovation simply to get our interest up enough to care, we are all walking down a dangerous path. What of those products that were innovative the year before? Or the year before that? Are they simply no longer worth mentioning – despite still being really solid and workable – because, heaven forbid, they are not "new?" And how often does that really new and cool product die a quick death because it's not really functional?
We know of more than one manufacturer who has admitted to us that they have pushed the new product envelope simply to get something out the press might start buzzing about. Why? Because otherwise the press won't pay any attention, these same manufacturers have told us.
Before you all get your collective panties in a bunch and huff "not me!" think again. All that breathless, superlative-filled prose by PR and promotions staff members who seek the media's favor to gain entry into the hallowed ground of a gear review or a product mention can almost always be boiled down to a few key words: It's new. It's cool. You should care.
But really what we should care about is this: Is it good enough that the function and design actually make sense? Or is it simply another shove-it-out-to-get-it-sold-and-get-us-press product that could have used a few more months in the incubator? Perhaps it's only been dreamed up as something just to get media attention? When was the last time you saw a press release on a product introduced last year? Is that because the product is no longer good, or is it that it is no longer "new and hot?" We think, unfortunately, it is the latter. As press, we too are guilty of tossing a press packet away if the product being flogged isn't "new."
Here's an idea: Instead of a focus on what's new in the year to come, how about a focus on what's good? And that could perhaps mean something that's "old," an evergreen if you will, but still in the line because it's so darn great! Now that could also mean something new, for sure – Arc'Teryx's introduction of the waterproof zipper is one very good idea that deserved a mention when new. In fact, it still deserves a mention although it's now "old" because it remains good. We could offer an endless list of products that are still very, very good and stand as shining examples of what this industry can design, produce, and sell, but that would take more space than we have in this editorial.
So, we're going to accept our own challenge and encourage you all to do the same—including our fellow press brethren. At SNEWS®, we aren't going to lose sleep worrying about what's new and hot anymore. Instead, we'll try to ask, "Did you see anything good?" If the answer reveals something new, fantastic! If the answer is about something a few years old, then we think it's just as important to get excited about that and celebrate its long-lasting quality.