ICR XChange: Where Consumers Are Investors and Vice Versa

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - If I had known that an early-morning yoga class hosted by Lululemon (LULU) as well as a spin class hosted by Town Sports International (CLUB) to promote their new BFX Studio were part of the planned events at this year's ICR XChange conference in Orlando, Fla., I would have booked my hotel room way earlier than I did.

Alas, even two months ahead of time, I didn't get in to the JW Marriott, where the conference was being hosted. As a result, I didn't go to either of the classes.

More than 2,000 attendees flocked to Orlando this year to attend the annual ICR XChange conference over three days. There retailers, restaurant chains and other consumer-facing companies, both public and private, took the podium to tell their stories. Yet, it seems to me to be able to truly appreciate a conference like this, an investor has to be a customer. If you're a customer, you're more than likely to be an investor. 

Maybe it was because the companies presenting at the conference are first and foremost consumer-facing companies, but it was a very different experience than what I'm used to at industry conferences. From the exercise classes to a story that one attendee told me about his son who has down syndrome, and the only headphones that seem to work for him are Skullcandy's (SKUL).

Attendees at this year's ICR XChange conference participating in a Lululemon-led yoga class on Tuesday morning.

Another attendee told me she felt compelled to tell the co-CEO of Warby Parker, a private eye wear company, how obsessed her boyfriend is with their product.

It's exactly these types of stories that companies love hearing because, from a brand perspective it creates a connection to their customer. On the flip side, it also creates a good experience with the product keeps them coming back and purchasing again.

Of course, in the case of a public company, that could follow through to an investment in stock.

"I think that's one of the things though that companies that become public like to play to," says Bob McCooey, Nasdaq OMX's (NDAQ) head of listings.

Of course, the opposite is true too. If a public company has a major mess up, as in the case of Lululemon's sheer pants scandal earlier this year, or for instance, Target's (TGT) credit card security breach.

However, it seems to me that investing in these very tangible consumer-focused companies, one has to be -- at the very least -- a consumer of them.

Even though I can't invest, per TheStreet's rules, next year I'll be sure to book my hotel room early and ensure I get a spot at that LULU yoga class.

Videos from ICR XChange

Del Frisco's CEO: U.S. Has Turned Into a 'Foodie Nation'
Town Sports International CEO: Members Want Convenience
Skullcandy CEO: In It to Win It
Dunkin' Brands CEO: Competition Makes Us Better
Denny's CEO John Miller on Staying Relevant in a Fast-Casual World
Limoneira's Big Opportunity in Lemon Sales
Noodles & Co. President: Consumers Are Demanding Fast Casual
Noodles & Co. President: 4Q Revenue 'Right Where We Wanted to Be'

Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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