Agenda, riding high off the momentum of the recently capped Agenda Festival, expects to bring the consumer-facing component back in January and June as its founder mulls the full potential of that new line of business.
Agenda Festival, tacked on after the final and second day of the Agenda trade show for buyers and brands, attracted some 15,000 people to the Long Beach Convention Center last month. The retail, music, food and skateboarding extravaganza represented the first time Agenda has gone direct-to-consumer. The traffic surpassed Agenda founder Aaron Levant’s initial goal of 8,000 to 10,000 people for the event, which charged $50 at the door and included live performances from Lil Dicky, Cam’ron, Ludacris, A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator, Nobunny and others, along with 500 brand pop-ups.
“I thought it went really well. We were very excited about the energy and all the excitement at the event,” Levant said, reflecting on the day. “The kids were ecstatic. We had an amazing secret performance from A$AP Rocky. All the skate contests went well and it’s setting the tone for what’s to come for the future of Agenda.”
That future will most certainly include Agenda Festivals now in January and June of next year when the regular Agenda trade show will be held and the same year Agenda celebrates its 15th anniversary. Levant and team are projecting the January festival to see an increase in attendees of more than 50 percent.
“It’s great timing and signals the change of our business model and the change in direction we’re heading,” Levant said. “Hey, we did the last 15 years doing this one, rigid thing and this is a future pivot for us.”
Continuing the festival in Long Beach makes sense due to space allowances there. Vegas, where the Agenda trade show is also held, not so much, Levant said. New York and Miami, where the trade show has previously operated, are up for consideration as locales where Agenda Festival could be had as a stand-alone event. The stand-alone festivals could happen potentially next year or into 2019, according to Levant.
Many of the skate brands showing at the festival last month did well, which could have been a byproduct of the skate contests going on as well as the type of live music offered, Levant said. Future festivals may seek to diversify the mix of acts to include more indie bands that could very well help bring in additional fans.
Levant, when asked if vendors were successful in selling merchandise, said it was mixed given not all vendors were selling merchandise and some showed at the event for marketing purposes.
“We’re really a platform for the brands,” he said. “I think the learning was for the brands at Agenda. Some did really well and some brands didn’t get it until they saw it. I think brands really took a big notepad of ideas away.”
The festival component for Agenda now offers a new pathway to growth making its own brand relevant to direct-to-consumer lines that normally wouldn’t have given the business-to-business trade show any consideration, Levant said. When he started Agenda in 2003, 100 percent of the brands he targeted had a traditional business model reliant on wholesale. That later transitioned to a combination of wholesale and direct and has now more recently morphed into a much greater focus on selling mainly online and direct. Levant and team Agenda are now themselves following that path with their own business model, reaching directly to the consumer and, in some ways, starting over to build a new audience.
“Now I can go to direct-to-consumer brands and it actually makes sense,” Levant said of the festival. “I had no reason to call them for the last few years, right? Now we have a reason to get on the phone to talk to these people so it’s starting from the ground up there. I have to build an audience of direct-to-consumer brands in the same way I spent the last 15 years building up the wholesale brands.”
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