February 26, 2016

Interview with Doug Poindexter, World Pet Association

What do you see as SuperZoo’s role within the pet industry?

SuperZoo helps facilitate growth within the pet industry. We bring buyers and sellers together in a highly efficient environment and provide the necessary support to help retailers improve and grow their businesses.


What spurred the idea to move from the September to the July showing this year?

We were hearing from different buyers at the time that the timing in September was becoming too late for them. We were learning as we talked to some of the mass markets that the timing really wasn’t great, that a number of them were using SuperZoo to set up their 2014 calendar and September was going to be too late for that, so it didn’t seem to be falling in the right timeframe for a number of categories to be able to really help them with their planning and moving forward.

So late July seemed to be the right timeframe, giving [buyers] time to do their planograms or catalogs for 2014, and even the small guy was able to make sure he was able to get the product he wanted, without them running out of stuff late in the year.


How has the show has grown over the years into the show that it is today?

Las Vegas is certainly a great backdrop, it’s the #1 city to hold trade shows, and it’s not because people are spending time on the casino floor, it’s because they’re spending time on the trade show floor. I think part of that is that Las Vegas is open 24 hours a day. You don’t need to stop in the middle of the day, run off if there might be another attraction in another city that has certain time limits. You can do your business segment on the show floor and still have time to play in the evenings and play as late as you want. So I think that’s why Las Vegas is such a nice draw and does so well for trade shows.


I think that what’s really important to a lot of our exhibitors, is a lot of our buyers are owners, managers, decision-makers that are coming, because they’re not going to pay for travel for everyone else to come. So that dynamic I think has made the biggest difference.


Do you get a lot of international buyers?

Absolutely, and we’re seeing more and more international participation from the buying community, and the exhibiting community both. There’s certainly more interest in both. When we were in LA, we drew fairly well from the Pacific Rim because we were the closest show. Now, we still draw well from the Pacific Rim, because Las Vegas is still closer to them than some of the other shows in the industry. But we’re also starting to see more come from Europe now because of the destination of Las Vegas, and also because the show has grown to the size it is. It makes their trip worthwhile.


Can you give an example of something completely new to SuperZoo in 2013?

This year, we’re very excited to unveil the  SuperZoo Concept Store. We’ve developed a state-of-the-art retail store on the show floor using best and next practices in merchandising and technology. Attendees can see unique retail displays and an innovative Point of Sale system as well as learn strategies for store set up and design, category management, QR code development, SKU and inventory management. These days, it’s not enough to have great product, you need to know how to sell it and sell it efficiently.


How do you foresee the show continuing to grow in the next five or so years?

That’s the challenge. About a week after the show ends every year, I sit my entire staff down and say, “ You know what, we’ve just had one of the best shows that we’ve ever had. What are you going to do to make next year’s show better?” And so we’re constantly looking at ways to enhance our show and make it better for the attendee and for the exhibitor.


So every year we try to find something new and something different to add to the show, to expand our horizons, and help grow our attendees’ businesses and therefore the exhibitors’ businesses. I’ve got a great team that’s working with us here, and I’m so proud of them and our board for being the visionaries that they are to try new things.  


How does the show target quality buyers as attendees for the show?

Our show is a working show, where business gets done. From the show floor to the education program, SuperZoo is tailored towards management-level pet professionals. We also invest a lot in our database development, ensuring that it’s up-to-date and on target.


What exhibitor categories are growing for the show?

We are still experiencing growth in the natural products area.  Our Nature’s Pathway section of our show floor expanded again this year as consumers are focused on ingredients of what they’re giving their pets.  We’ve launched an Ingredients Row section on our show floor and developed a curriculum at the School of Animal Wellness.  Focused and in-depth, this group of seminars is presented on the show floor, and features the latest information and expert advice from animal wellness pros and panel discussions.


How does SuperZoo provide exhibitors unique way to connect with buyers?

SuperZoo brings together buyers and sellers in a symbiotic environment that’s focused, efficient and highly cost-effective. We also have the best attendee to exhibitor ratio in the industry, giving exhibitors an opportunity to get in front of thousands of buyers with purchasing intent—all in one place, at one time.


You limit the number of exhibitors and have a substantial waiting list. Can you discuss how this affects buyer experience and how it changes the show’s positioning in the market?

SuperZoo has seen tremendous growth over the past several years, garnering recognition from Trade Show News Network as one of the Top 250 trade shows in the U.S. and Trade Show Executive’s 50 fastest growing trade shows. Although we are proud and honored that SuperZoo has become so popular, we are very cognizant of maintaining the quality of our resources. As I’ve mentioned, SuperZoo is a working show. We need to facilitate business in the most efficient, effective way possible by providing the best possible resources, organized into an easy to navigate show floor. As a result, attendees find a more curated selection of unique, innovative products.


Are there ways in which you try to appeal to the international buyers, in particular?

The destination’s one, obviously. We certainly try to. We segment the floor, which helps them when they’re coming over. When they come over to find natural products, we have a natural products area of the show floor. If they’re interested in grooming, we have a grooming area. If they’re interested in equine, we’ve got an equine section of the floor. If they’re interested in what we kind of call the bling, fashion and high-end stuff, we’ve got what we call Rodeo Drive where those vendors are at. We try to help make it a little more comfortable for them, to be able to navigate their way around the show floor. But beyond that, we don’t do anything really out of the way for international versus others, for the most part.


Do you consider any other trade shows your main “competition”?

We have a couple that we consider friendly competitors. We all have the same goal in mind—to help advance the pet industry—and have carved out ways to differentiate our shows from one another. The reason our attendees like SuperZoo is for the vibrant atmosphere, unique products, sense of community and the unparalleled education they get at SuperZoo University. Our main focus is to ensure attendees leave with exactly what they need to improve their business and add more sales.

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