Thursday, December 12, 2019

Casio is Audi 5000

So the news came forth like a soggy bit of ill-timed flatulence at a staff meeting - Casio has opted out of BaselWorld 2020.

The brand that brought you the G-Shock, the Oceanus and some very nifty desk calculators (I have one in my office) will not be displaying next April / May.

The reason?  Presumably several, but chief among them might be Golden Week.

One of the things I loved about living and working in Japan was the bumper-crop of holiday weeks in addition to individual days.  Golden Week is one that falls in (you guessed it) late April, early May.  So along with Ramadan, the schedulers managed to hit another major holiday period.  

In addition, however, it is another indication that business, overall, is not great.  While the fair schedulers probably didn't fully understand the knock-on effect that scheduling conflicts would produce, the brands have to take some ownership of the fact that the business in general (meaning sales, etc.) is not in what could be called "fighting shape".  And while it is easy to pick a big target like BaselWorld, there are several realities that BaselWorld has no control over that will impact how retailers and brands will determine whether or not to participate.

1.  Sales are bad - This would give the brands one of two options.  They can cut all marketing expenses (BaselWorld just being one of them), or they can embrace the opportunity to participate in BaselWorld and find savings elsewhere.  

Bad sales have a domino effect.  If sales are down, that means that there is less budget to spend, and that means that advertising money is going to be clipped.  And yes, that means the media at large, but most specifically the media that is dependent upon advertising money, advertorial money, and the intentionally vague "package" marketing fee (i.e. in general, you are paying to appear in outlet X on any level) are going to think twice about coming, and likely only visit brands that they have, or hope to conduct commerce with.

So this means that now a lot of media aren't going to come.  But guess what?  That means that brands can actually focus on the media outlets that DO come!  And chances are good that if brands focus on building or re-establishing those relationships, they will have people committed to covering them EVEN WITHOUT GETTING PAID TO DO SO.  Because even though some of the larger "media" outlets will not be sending their "squads", there will be a lot of eager, enthusiastic emerging talent who will welcome the opportunity to connect.  So note to brands - take advantage of the opportunity!  Shake hands, kiss babies, pour coffee!  Don't snob, hob-nob!

2.  Fair style watch shows are dead.  Well, to hear Hayek the younger muse on it a year ago, you would have thought so.  Yes, fairs are so dead that... SWATCH group is (unless I have misunderstood) having their own fair in March to follow-up on the (excuse me while I die laughing) run-away success of their last effort (retailers in Zurich, press at various high end brands separately at no small expense).  So clearly, Mr. Hayek can say fairs are dead all he wants to, but by his group's actions it is clear that he doesn't really think so.

And again, as apparently my specialty is being contrary, I will say it again. BaselWorld is an easy target to shoot blame at. But the truth of the matter is that it takes two to play chicken. And in all honesty that is what brands and the fair have been doing for the last 20 years. When brands were flush, they could not have cared any less about expense. Times get tough? Well, let's just say that we didn't get here overnight. Many brands are fighting a war of ink - black vs. red. And while the fair represents a major chunk of money invested, there are plenty other "fatty portions" that could have been trimmed - friends of the brand, football, rugby, sailing sponsorships, etc. But in hindsight? We always have 20/20 vision.

And again, to be contrary, I think that there will be some opportunity for pioneers and brands that can see the possibilities.

Stay tuned!

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