Any visit to New York city in a day is always a whirlwind. It was even more so on my recent visit to attend the Photo Plus Expo, the largest photography event in North America on behalf of Ikigai, the new line of professional photographer camera bags that just hit the market at the beginning of October.
We didn’t have a booth at the show – Ikigai officially launched the first week in October and currently, the only product offering they have is their Rival backpacks featuring a removable, configurable camera cell on the inside. So we didn’t exactly have a full line to be touting though that will be coming soon.
So instead, we went as observers and thanks to Karen Lamerick, our new PR person, three members of our team managed to get in on a tweet-out event that took place Wednesday night where members of the media could see what’s new and check out the merchandise. Through that little affair, we managed to get a fair amount of both press and tweets and the reviews continue to be extremely favorable about the Strength from Within of Ikigai.
I needed to call on my own Strength from Within to roust myself out of bed and be at the airport by 4:50 in the morning, knowing that when you fly Southwest, any time can be a busy time to get through security. By the time I made it through the scanner, the plane was boarding and long before the sun came up, Brian Schultz and I were heading east, arriving just in time to catch the tail end of rush hour as we had a nice 90-minute cab ride to the Javitts Center. Brian’s represented the design arm of our Ikigai marketing team and we’ve paired up on quite a few projects now in the print and online world.
Upon arrival, we immediately had a quick meeting with a new distributor for Ikigai. That in itself was a good start. Then it was time to hit the floor. I’ve been to a number of trade shows featuring mammoth booth displays and Photo Plus certainly held their own.
Nikon and Canon had huge areas featuring demonstrations, speakers and some of the most absolutely gorgeous photographs of just about anything, enlarged to about 4′ x 6′ formats. Special note was made of the super soft carpet in the Nikon area – after walking the floor for several hours, your feet became very happy when they made acquaintance with this deep plush carpet.
All the major camera brands were there as well as a wide assortment of accessory items and of course, our reason for being there – backpacks, sling bags, messenger bags and a variety of other carrying solutions all catering to the needs of the professional or at least the quite serious photographer.
We checked out our main competition – there were three primary brands that we paid special interest to – LowePro, Manfrotto and Think Tank. Each had a wide assortment of bags, each had their own positioning. But none of them had quite what Ikigai has – a removable, configurable camera cell that provides an added layer of protection to a photographer’s most valued possessions; an easy carrying solution for when you’re out on shoots; and thanks to the removable liners and adjustable Velcro pads, a customizable packing solution that keeps all the gear safe and secure.
We took notes. Took a few marketing brochures. Took pictures. And our net takeaway is that Ikigai is ready to grab its share of this market.
Once people get to know and understand the brand, there is a strong likability factor. And once Ikigai hits the market with a few more product offerings so that a photographer can begin to employ an actual system for packing their bags, this brand is going to take off.
For now, we were content with a one-day up and back.
It was all a blur. It was last Thursday which actually seems like it was already last month.
We have a lot of work to do. And as for next year’s show?
We’ll be back.