MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN)—Mother Nature once again cooperated kindly as 50,000 attendees came to this year’s Sea Otter Classic over its four days in Monterey, California.
The 317 exhibitors this year—up 25 from 2010—were in enthusiastic moods to show off product for consumers. They all cited different reasons, however, on why this consumer show still holds more value than ever for them.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get in front of the consumers,” said Diamondback’s Jon Kennedy. “There are also a lot of dealers down here that we really respect and we want to be a presence here. We think it’s important to be at these shows not only to push our product but to be here to answer questions about any issues any people might be having.”
Hayes Bicycle Group’s Scott Struve added, “In the bike industry we’re all consumers to a certain extent or bike geeks, but then when you actually get a chance to get in front of that consumer and see how your products are affecting them—you get questions here that you probably take for granted.”
Sea Otter is also a venue for strong OEM suppliers to build a name for themselves among consumers who likely use their products, but have no idea of the brand.
SR Suntour is the industry’s largest OEM supplier of suspension forks by volume, but has little recognition by comparison in the aftermarket. Gaining more exposure among consumers has been a goal since SR Suntour opened a North American office last year, and exhibiting at events like Sea Otter help to familiarize consumers with the brand, said Doug Stewart, head of aftermarket sales for SR Suntour, a Taiwanese brand. SR Suntour will continue that push this year by touring various consumer events with its new demo van, sponsoring athletes and advertising in Decline and on Pinkbike.com.
Hillary Kirkman manned the Alex Rims booth at Sea Otter as part of her effort to build distribution in the U.S. for Alex’s aftermarket brand A-Class wheels.
“It’s good. Everybody in the industry knows our rims, but once you move outside people in the industry, we all but don’t exist,” she said. Kirkman hopes exposure at events like Sea Otter will create some consumer demand and drive dealers to ask their distributors for the wheels to help build the business. Kirkman also plans to be at PressCamp this summer to increase media coverage of the brand.
Sea Otter’s first ladies activities day on Sunday drew 400 participants where under a huge tent women’s specific seminars and clinics were offered among other things.
For many manufacturers like NiteRider Sea Otter’s timing fits perfectly with upcoming product releases. “It doesn’t hurt that this show is tied closely to the introduction of our new product line in the next month or two,” said NiteRider’s Mike Ely.