Are conventions due to face market saturation or just meeting demand?
In the past few years the anime convention industry has boomed! Using anime cons, a leading conventions event listing website, I compared the number of anime conventions (and related events) year on year; in 2003 there were 5, 2008; 12 and 2013 – a whopping 39! This is a staggering 680% increase in 10 years! What will the events listing be like in five years? Will there be even more conventions listed, or a drop as saturation in the market kicks in, or as popularity for attending convention declines.
This July, there are over five anime (or related) conventions to choose from including LFCC, Readcon, London Anime Con, MCM Manchester and Hyper Japan. With conventions and expos constantly clashing, sometimes intentionally – Showmasters and MCM are prime examples of this. MCM in May clashed with Collectormania 19, this seems to be a regular occurrence between the two biggest expos in the UK. Of course with bigger expos like this, it is purely a power play and popularity contest of who can get the most attendees. With the smaller more community based conventions, clashing is a bold and risky move, but perhaps soon it will become necessary in the grand scheme of things if you want to dominate a niche market and wipe smaller rivals out.
Some conventions are already seeing the end of their run, such as Ayacon and Wincon who are due for their last convention this year; others like Nemucon have been cancelled due to a damaged reputation.
Of course with the current recession, struggling economy and high unemployment rates it is virtually impossible to attend all of the current conventions, so how do the general public decide which to attend? Is it which is the cheapest, the nearest, where friends are going, or a conventions reputation? How are companies going to ensure they prosper, keep attendees interested and come out on top? With the increase of conventions, companies are definitely feeling the pressure and the need for better promotion has increased, with social media being a key factor – how many like and share contests have you seen recently? Conventions are also trying to out do each other with guests and price.
With increased attendance year on year and the interest of anime conventions growing, are the events industry simply just meeting the demand? Is there perhaps even room for new conventions to enter the market? May’s MCM saw record high attendance of over 70,000 people, so high the October expo has now hired out the whole of the Excel venue in preparation for even more attendees.
Why the sudden boom? Has the anime community changed into caring less about the community but more about profiting from it? Leading to more people wanting to organise their own event. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been at a convention where someone as gone ‘I could do this’ and ‘let’s start our own convention’. Is this attitude driving people to start there own? With so many people wanting to make money from their cosplay talents -selling prints, arts and crafts commissioning costumes etc. It begs the question, whatever happened to just being passionate about cosplay and anime?
However, is the sudden boom temporary and just a fad? Should event organisers enjoy the profits and popularity while they can? Should they start preparing for when people become bored of cosplay, anime and conventions? Some companies are already beginning to think of innovative ideas to involve anime and cosplay into our everyday lives through non-related events such as club nights, picnics and cruises, which could be the way forward into keeping the genre prominent in people’s lives.
Only time will tell regarding the fate of conventions, but for now lets cosplay and enjoy them as much as we can!
What are your views on this subject? Do you feel there are too many conventions? Please comment below!