Suppliers Mixed on Showing at Winter OR Online

The second edition of a virtual OR show opens January 6 and will run 10 weeks.

With Winter OR Online just around the corner, the textile community continues to ponder the benefits of participation in virtual trade events. Whereas in the past, exhibiting at Outdoor Retailer was pretty much a no-brainer, after a year like 2020 suppliers are re-evaluating selling options. “It's a quandary what to do,” says Lisa Owen with Life Natural, a Life Materials brand, summing up what many feel about the digital trade show scene.

We queried a dozen textile vendors to find out plans for Winter OR Online, which opens to registrants January 6, 2021. Are they “going” to the Show? And if so, how and what is being presented? The answers revealed  a mixed bag of “yes,” “no” and “maybe” responses.  Here’s a quick rundown on the information available at press time:

Gore, Unifi, Cordura, Schoeller, and PrimaLoft are onboard to exhibit, while Polartec, Nilit, Hyosung and Pertex are not showing. Sorona, Life Natural and Concept III are on the fence.

In the “yes” camp, Gore’s plans are the most complete. The company reports that it will highlight its new Gore-Tex Pro, Gore-Tex Invisible Fit Footwear and various glove and accessories technologies. In addition to hosting a virtual booth, the brand will have marketing outreach through banner ads, email blasts as well as inclusion in the VIP box giveaway for retailers and media.

Schoeller will focus on a new website for Biocosmo; Cordura will feature its digital library; PrimaLoft will highlight its P.U.R.E manufacturing, and Unifi will host three webinars and present information on ChillSense, Flexx Resin, Repreve Our Ocean and Cationic innovations.

On the “maybe” front, Renee Henze of Sorona explains, “We are actually still pondering over whether to exhibit or not to exhibit. The team hasn’t seen a lot of the virtual trade shows come off as resounding successes this year. Nonetheless, we do think it’s important to stay relevant and support the industry plus, as you note, virtual may be a real part of our future.”

Owen comments, “The digital format is a struggle, with the main challenge of how to stand out and drive the engagement.” She offers as example that Life Natural  got more response from a video that was previewed during the recent Performance Days virtual fair, “than just appearing on an exhibitor list.”  Owen also highlights the company’s recent launch of a new website.  She concludes, “You can convey concepts, but even in one-to-one situations virtually, it’s just not the same as being in person.”

The second iteration of a virtual Outdoor Retailer show will not try to replicate the format and atmosphere of a large in-person fair. According to organizers, OR Winter Online “will unfold at a more leisurely pace, with much of the content available on demand for users to access whenever they wish.” The show will run through March 19. (Additional trade show coverage will appear in the Jan/Feb print issue of Textile Insight).

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