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July 24, 2019

By: The Pet Business Professor

According to John Gibbons, president of A GPS for Pet Businesses, SuperZoo 2019 is most definitely a great “opportunity” for attendees and exhibitors and the “surest bet” in Vegas. Like Global Pet Expo, SuperZoo is a “must do” if you want to be a player in the U.S. pet market.

There are differences between the two shows. After all, GPE started the U.S. pet industry with the first trade show 61 years ago. It is still the largest annual show and has a huge international following with 295 exhibitors from outside the U.S. On the other hand, SuperZoo traces its roots to a regional trade show for independent pet shops. It too has come a long way since those early days. SuperZoo has expanded both in size and its reach. With 1,100 exhibitors, targeted special floor sections, including one devoted to the important grooming segment, and over 120 international exhibitors, it too has become a “destination” for manufacturers, distributors and key players from all retail channels. However, independents are still a major focus of the show. This has a benefit for all attendees as “hopeful” new product offerings and trends often show up first at SuperZoo because independents are generally more open to adding new, untried items than the larger chains and mass market retailers. You will see this in 2019 with the “explosion” in exhibitors offering CBD products. (With 63 exhibitors, I assigned CBD its own separate product category. It also earned 2 Educational Seminars.)

SuperZoo’s growth has not come without challenges. Recently, they have had to move the show dates twice, once last year to accommodate the need for more floor space and again this year to return to the expected and traditional late summer “timing” of the show. This caused a little “hand wringing” and 37.4% of 2018 exhibitors didn’t return. This is up from the “usual” 30%. (Note: GPE 2019 was 34%) Although down by 98, the final exhibitor count should again reach 1,100; the benchmark set in 2016. The booths are also larger. Exhibitors will occupy 269,000 sq ft, with an average booth of 254 sq ft, up from 245 in 2018 and 200 in 2016. Plus, the New Product Showcase this year will cover 30,000 sq ft.

Let’s take a closer look. We’ll start with some overview exhibitor trends then move to the special floor sections:

  • Assigned Exhibitors: 1,096; ↓ 98 (-8.2%) from 2018
  • Booth Sq Ft: 269,000; ↓ 15,000 (-5.3%) from 2018
  • 447 SZ 2018 Exhibitors (-37.4%) aren’t at SZ 2019
  • 352 (32.1%) are new. They didn’t do SZ 2018
  • 462 (42.2%) SZ 2019 Exhibitors weren’t at GPE 2019
  • 261 (23.8%) are really new – Not at SZ 18 or GPE 19

SuperZoo is down 8.2% in exhibitors, equal to 2017 and 17% more than 2014. The average booth is also 25% larger than 2016 and still growing. There are products and services available to fill virtually every need or want of the attendees and the show is keeping “in tune” with changes. Increasing the number and size of special floor sections along with the big increase in educational sessions are prime examples. 924 exhibitors (84%) focus on dog/cat. Let’s take a closer look.

There are 98 fewer exhibitors at SuperZoo. Those offering dog and/or cat products fell by 76. However, the dog/cat share increased slightly from 83.7% to 84.3%. Once again “share” may be the best measure for comparison.

  • Only 10 of 33 (30%) dog/cat categories have more exhibitors in 2019 than in 2018
  • However, 23 of the 33 (70%) categories increased their share of exhibitor booths

In the Top 10 categories, we saw a big loss in numbers and share by beds, but medication/supplements and grooming tools gained ground in both measurements. Treats are down 1 in exhibitor count but up 2.6% in share. There are only 2 other significant gains in the other dog/cat categories:

  • Dental: +9 (+14.8%); Share ↑1.3%
  • Exercise/Agility: +6 (+50.0%); Share ↑0.6%

When you look at the dog/cat categories making gains, you see that the most common thread is the health and wellness of our companion animals. We also can’t forget the recently added category of CBD products, which debuted with an exhibitor count of 63. All of these fit right in with the ongoing trend to more nutritionally focused pet food.

SuperZoo certainly showcases what is “happening” in the pet industry and offers a great opportunity for attendees and exhibitors to make a mutually beneficial connection. Once again, it’s the surest bet in Las Vegas!

Check out the full report here.

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