If you’re into sneakers or fashion or “pop culture,” you’ve probably caught wind of the massive marketing activation being held at Long Beach Convention Center this weekend. That would be ComplexCon, a two day event aimed at showcasing the hottest sneakers, clothing, and food that represent pop culture in 2016.
On paper, ComplexCon is what Agenda Show (and Capsule and Magic for that matter) have turned essentially turned into. With the rise of eCommerce, the concept of a trade show has become less and less relevant. Buyers can do this work over the Internet. Instead, conventions have loosely turned into marketing activations, like Pharrell pushing G-Star Raw here.
A marketing activation is essentially a form of brand engagement with potential customers to showcase what exactly your company does, and why the product is worth buying. You’ll find these in forms of the booths at said shows. The booth is part customer engagement, part show of force; a booth basically says, “how dope/powerful/cutting edge is our company? Have a look.” Take for instance Nike’s Air Force 1 booth at ComplexCon. This massive booth showcases the 20+ year history for one of Nike’s longstanding favorites, which leads to the exclusive Special Field Air Force One that’s being sold just at ComplexCon.
Obviously this space is insane, Nike is a Fortune 500 company (in fact, they’re technically a Fortune 100 at #91). So being one of the top 100 companies in the world allows you certain liberties with your activation. For instance, they’re showcasing a single product because they’re operating under the assumption that world knows about all the other sneakers they sell; they’re probably right too.
Part of the experience of ComplexCon is the “cash-and-carry” feature that drives the whole customers there. While a convention like Agenda is more focused on buyers picking out stock for their stores, cash-and-carry means the average consumer can go their and literally buy product. In other words, the convention center has been turned into a massive pop up shop with performances, food, and panels.
Panels are the norm at most conferences. Typically, a group of experts talk about what’s new and exciting in their field. For ComplexCon, that ranged from Action Bronson talking about weed to DJ Clark Kent talking about Jordans. It’s interesting to see conversation that might take place on the message boards or in the “comment sections” move into a real life setting. How these panels impact the way streetwear heads spend their money hasn’t yet been determined, but the entire convention is a unique spin on an old concept.
This is the shopping experience in 2016 and it’s pretty fascinating.