TONI THORNE: Is Crop Over saturated?
LAST SATURDAY, I spent the day on South Beach, Miami with a melting pot of Caribbean young persons and the topic of Crop Over came up. One of the young women manages the website carnivalinfo.com and she asked my opinion on the top fetes she and her team should attend. Knowing that there were at least five unofficial lists of must-attend events for the season, I showed her all, including the National Cultural Foundation’s official calendar.
I was told that the NCF came under heavy fire recently for an unofficial list which omitted Foreday Morning. I would like to point out that the official NCF curated calendar does consist of all national events for the season. The fact that Foreday Morning would be omitted from any of these lists is very telling and will be addressed in another article.
Ms Carnivalinfo was in shock at the amount of offerings we have for this year’s season especially in the final week as well as the amount of sections in bands for this year – all fabulous, all catering to a 18-35 aspirational demographic.
This week, I listened as some promoters argued about the placement of their events and lamented about the many clashes during the final two weeks of the festival. At a recent Dancin’ Africa rehearsal, I was amused at the many young women who became overwhelmed by the myriad of exciting costumes and having to make a reasonable choice.
All of the lists, I have seen outside of the official NCF curated one, have dozens of events. Is Crop Over saturated? If so, is this saturation a good or bad thing for the festival?
We are now in an era when the number of promoters has increased tremendously. Many consumers are now throwing their hats into the ring, conceptualising and producing events. The pool of promoters is increasing whilst the pool of consumers decreases. This is good for business and the economy. However, when you take a look at the concept of economies of scale, this is a pattern to monitor.
We cannot stop persons from producing events but I believe that promoters need to be cognizant of the fact that in looking at Trinidad as a model, they should realise and recognise that two million people will not be in Barbados (which has a population of less than 300 000) during the final two weeks of the festival. The offerings have evolved and this is tremendous for the Crop Over product on a holistic point of view.
However, the truth is that everyone in the game will not be winners. Some people will lose money. The cream, as per usual, will rise to the top as they have done, sell out in 20 minutes and be a success. This was exemplified by Puff of Colour. Brands which seek to follow-pattern and do business with the same redundancy will feel the pinch. Consumers’ tastes are evolving and they are quite rightfully becoming more demanding with their expectations.
I joked with a brand manager recently and told him that the distribution companies will benefit the most. However, we know it is a risk for them as well. When brands invest in events in a saturated market in which consumers have so many choices, there will be cases where some events will flop and not ‘push cases’. The brands, in turn, will not experience impressive returns on their investments.
Consequentially, brands may possibly be more cautious about what they invest in and will be inclined to invest in events that will be the ‘big winners’. This is unfortunate for young, new promoters who in many cases would have fresh, innovative concepts.
In a time of caution, they will not receive the necessary investment to produce their events. In conclusion, to answer my own question, is Crop Over saturated? Yes. Is it a good or bad thing? Time will tell.
Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email: [email protected]