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Eep, a tradeshow

I went to the Healthy Harvest tradeshow in Long Beach last weekend, mostly out of curiosity, but also to see what level of marketing noise retailers are exposed to when being presented with hundreds of different vitamins, supplements, and everything else under the "natural health" spectrum. I attended as someone's guest and was able to pose as a retailer for the day. One manufacturer's rep I spoke to went so far as to explain the life science mechanisms behind their products and I'll admit, it was too much information. Seriously, my eyes glazed over once he started talking about molecular protein energy cycle actions that go on inside the body, or something. Sure, I had three years of life science coursework at the undergraduate level; but none of it prepared me for the drivel I had to endure over the next several hours as I visited other exhibit booths. Though, not all of it was that bad.

If it's this hard for a retailer to understand a manufacturer's product when this group has the most amount of product data available to them, I can't imagine that this would be an easy task for a consumer seeing these products on a store shelf for the first time.

It takes something spectacular to catch the attention of a marketer at one of these shows. If you don't have a background in life sciences, medicine, or alternative health, you're about at the same body of knowledge as the average consumer who shops for these products. With that said, only the truly whacked out marketing concepts made it past my if-I-were-the-end-user filter...from both well known and obscure companies. I'll post pictures of these samples soon.

It would appear that there are booth hosts who know how to run and organize a tradeshow booth and actively engage future business partners, and there are those where you pretend to avert your eyes as you pass by their booth because you don't want to talk with someone who looks more bored than yourself. The mix of booth hosts varied from distributors, manufacturers' reps, owners of niche product lines, and marketing affiliates. I didn't have many preconceived notions about what I would expect.

I looked at this show from a marketer's perspective, taking in how detailed vendors had setup their booths, product packaging, what types of marketing collateral were being used to pitch a product, how engaging the booth's host was, and what level of knowledge these people had about product and pricing.

Overall, it was a decent experience from an industry outsider's point of view.
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