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Making the most out of trade fairs
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jul 5 2014 5:20PM
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Trade fairs, shows and exhibitions can be described in an incorporated manner as refined platforms for steering business on a national and international scale. It is more than just a marketing tool as the entire market is at your fingertips. As a source of market information they fulfill your needs in an integrated way.They deliver an outstanding opportunity to measure opinions from clients and resolve market potential, conduct research and gauge competition, develop commercial structures by identifying new agents and distributors, and initiating joint ventures and project partnerships.

In the age of tech-aficionados, this old school tool still finds takers and holding its fort firm. It still proves the old adage ‘Old is Gold’ true. From new launches and gauging competition to spotting the trends and infusing positive sentiments, trade shows do it all. How exactly is this happening? Kunjal Karaniya and Kavita Parab find out…

“Trade isn't about goods. Trade is about information. Goods sit in the warehouse until information moves them.” – said C. J. Cherryh about trade. And what could be better way to move the information than the trade shows/trade fairs. Trade shows are events where companies that are involved in a certain industry gather to exhibit their products, learn about current trends in their industry, and gain knowledge about their competitors providing opportunities for selling, reinforcing existing business relationships, and launching new products. Many companies rely on industry trade shows to find a possibility to grow their customer list, establish partnerships, learn ways to improve operations and establish themselves as industry thought leaders. So trade shows are definitely helpful for the industry.

Be it an international trade show or a domestic, the organisers, exhibitors, participants and buyers have few things in common to say. They all agree that the trade shows are undoubtedly the best platforms to connect with the industry as whoever visits these shows is directly or indirectly connected to the industry and the benefit does follow with such visits. While HKTDC Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show and the HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show are good for tapping the Asian markets; the much-touted show like Baselworld is the only place which brings the global jewellery and watch industry under one proof. Rebecca So, Manager, Marketing Communications, Exhibitions Department, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), agreeing on the same said, “The HKTDC Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show and the HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show provide an effective platform for exhibitors to meet quality buyers from all over the world and take the opportunity to tap into the lucrative Asian market and the Chinese mainland market.” Talking about the top retailers who are the main visitors for such shows, evenIshu Datwani, Founder, Anmol Jewellers, India, is very optimistic about the trade show concept as he said, “Yes, the trade fairs are very helpful for the business. Apart from being motivational and inspirational, the trade fairs are good avenues for networking and to meet the right kind of people. One can know what are the new trends coming in and be ahead of the game.”

As the industry is quite upbeat about the trade shows, what are the guidelines for the first time visitors or exhibitors? Nirav Bhansali, Convener – Exhibitions Sub Committee (National),GJEPC has advice for both as he said, “For choosing the right product and to make the right choice, one needs to do his homework before-hand. One needs to do research and visit websites to find the exhibitors and list down their choices to make it easy to spot on the floor plan at the venue.”

Another prominent retailer Rajiv Popley, Director, Popley Group, India, spoke about the factors that the participating companies have to pay attention. He said, “The trade shows provide a neutral platform for companies and showcase their products in an untamed territory. People’s perception about your company, products, and services is a major factor in their choice of brand preferences and their buying behavior. This is an important factor that companies look at. Be it slowdown or a good market, jewellery companies do look at expansion and growth in international trade and exhibitions.” He adds further that correct combination of products can do the trick. Popley also informed, “It is very important to choose the correct product to showcase during such shows. One can either choose from his existing range of products or look for current trends and demand before displaying the said designs.”

Rebecca So from HKTDC, too, added on the importance of having planned zones for the exhibitors. She pointed, “The strategic zoning houses the right exhibitors in respective areas and allows buyers to locate specific items at ease.” She further added on the HKTDC shows, “This year, 100 buying missions were organised to invite quality buyers to facilitate business matching in the two shows, counting more than 8,700 buyers representing over 7,000 companies from 76 countries, ranging from manufacturers, wholesalers to owners of retail outlets.”

When quizzed about the benefits of these shows to jewellery and watch industry, Sylvie Ritter, Managing Director, Baselworld said, “Baselworld is universally recognised as the most important marketplace and trendsetting event for the world's watch and jewellery industry, annually attracting around 150,000 attendees from every continent, with more than 1,500 brands representing every sector of the industry. Baselworld is also the place where exhibitors achieve a large percentage of their annual turnover.”

After finding out the secret behind the perfect show that receives the large number of footfall. Next obvious query that came to our mind was amongst the bevy of shows which is the best; and Baselworld topped the list as the much-acclaimed show as it is not only the best but the most-sought-after show in the world of gems, jewellery and watches. Not for nothing that the show is praised by all. In the words of Oz Mesiah of Novel Collection, a leading international colour diamond speciality company, "Baselworld is one of the most important shows in the world especially for the diamond industry. All the big dealers participate in the show and the biggest customers visit and show a lot of interest in our goods. In a nutshell, Baselworld is today indispensable for the watch and jewellery industry."

Another show that dots every trader’s must-visit-list of shows is the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. Commenting on the show’s success, Sunny Chan, Deputy Fair Manager, Jewellery Fairs, UBM Asia, said “The June Fair has established itself as one of the leading marketplaces for the industry and reputed as one of Asia’s top three trade events of its kind. The high traffic record of international jewellers at the June Fair also proves that the fair is a must-not-miss event.”

Back home, the Indian International Jewellery Show (IIJS) is the country’s top-of-the-line jewellery show, showcasing the best jewellery collections by the country's leading manufacturers. Samir Sagar, Director, Manubhai Jewellers had all praises for IIJS as he said, “As end retailers, trade shows such as IIJS make it possible for us to understand the current trends in the market, latest manufacturing techniques and innovative jewellery collections. Visiting tradeshows opens up avenues to varieties which were never thought of. This is especially important in jadau and kundan jewellery, where the manufacturers and karigars are based out of Mumbai.”

However, for Ishu Datwani, “Every trade show is different from the other. There are no set parameters to gauge which one is better since the purpose of each trade show maybe different. On visiting multiple trade shows you realise that each one has something different to offer and showcase. Some may cater to a different set of exhibitors and visitors where as some trade shows add their own touch with a unique theme portraying the trends of the season. I personally look forward to the Baselworld jewellery show followed by Hongkong Jewellery Show and IIJS.”

As per the recent information, the upcoming IIJS 2014 is already sold out. Commenting on the show’s success year after year, Nirav Bhansali said, “There is already a waiting list to participate and every year around 30,000 visitors visit the show.”

The trade shows are an investment and over the years the grandeur of these shows is only getting bigger and bigger. As these shows are the times when the stockists, buyers update their inventory, the exhibitors leave no stone unturned to make it a grand affair. From participating till finally exhibiting the products, the traders are shelling out big chunks of money. There are certain driving factors like participation fees, buyers’ portfolio, etc. that makes the traders pay an extra heed before jumping the bandwagon.

In the times of global economic uncertainty, is it feasible to invest in these expensive shows, was our next question. On this, Rebecca So from HKTDC said, “As there are different trade shows around the globe, it’s important for sellers to choose the best-fit ones according to their business objective and strategies to obtain the most enhanced trading efficiency.The diversity and internationality of buyers’ portfolio arealso key factors to drive a successful trade show, connecting the exhibitors to the market that they would like to explore.” While for Sunny Chan of UBM Asia, participation fee is one of the most important factor as he said, “Participation fee is one of the factors that influence the exhibitors’ decisions. Most of the exhibitors consider not only the booth price, but the effectiveness in terms of selling product, promoting brands, meeting new business partners and collecting market information, among others.”

Also, some of the buyers like Ishu Datwani felt that the increasing number of trade shows is reducing the margins of the sellers. Giving a cautionary message he said, “It is true that the number of shows in the past couple of years which has increased has led to an increase in cost and reduction in margins for the sellers. Hence, one has to been very careful when deciding on which show to participate in.”

Most of the exhibitors echoed the fact that most orders are placed during the show; however many times the confirmation of a particular order only comes in after the show.While some said that the orders take place sometimes during the show or after the show. It all depends upon how the exhibitor has made an impact through innovative placements, exquisite designs and intelligent marketing. Rebecca So from HKTDC clarified it further by saying, “By the clear segmentation of products and targeted buying missions, many orders had been placed during the show or potential partnerships were formed after the show.To our best knowledge, the magnitude of orders may be up to millions of U.S. dollars as told by Essex Global, a leading fine jewellery company from the U.S.”

Samir Sagar had different sentiments to share when he said, “Usually, the retail orders aren’t placed at the show. With certain products such as bangle designs, the customer preferences are known making it easier for the team to confirm order there itself. However, with other main jewellery pieces, only designs are selected and the karigars/manufacturers are asked to visit the merchandise team on a later date with the selected items to finalize orders.”

This all due to the fact that the trade show may or may not have the right kind of visitors. The visitors differ from show to show. As Ishu Datwani pointed out that most of the shows have the right kind of visitors. While Samir Sagar had a different take on this as he added, “Much depends on the promotional strategies adopted to popularise the tradeshow. For example, IIJS is well known in the industry and thus, sees at least 70 per cent of apt footfalls. Practically, everyone who comes in as visitors has a direct/ indirect relationship within the industry.” While Sunny Chan from UBM Asia said different kind of visitors are a boost to the business as he said, “Among the visitors, they are representing different business nature, including retailer, wholesaler, manufacturer, importer, exporter jewellery designer, private collector, chain store and more. The strong participation of jewellers from around the world brings to the fair/exhibitors unmatched business opportunities.Further, exhibitors are also conducting business between themselves at the show as the exhibitors who are the manufacturers for finished jewellery will buy loose gems from the exhibitors selling diamonds, pearls and gemstones in order to design and manufacture the fine jewellery. Also, both loose and finished jewellery exhibitors will buy equipment, tools and packaging products at the show as well.”

Though the trade shows are getting expensive, these shows are here to say. Samir Sagar on importance of trade shows for the gems and jewellery industry said, “In 2013, the domestic Indian jewellery industry was pegged close to Rs. 2,51,000 crore, generating large scale employment and contributing nearly 7 per cent to the GDP of the Indian economy. Being one of the world’s largest market and highest consumption, the Indian gem and jewellery industry is looking towards a bright future.With such a large market, connecting buyers and sellers becomes vital for the growth of the industry. The presence of trade fairs within the industry works towards this end; to facilitate an increased interaction among various touch points.”

“Expositions provide a unique networking platform to both Indian and foreign participants. They help in promotion, marketing and publicity efforts of participating companies. Exhibitions lead to joint ventures, tie-ups and they also help bring in investment in the Country,” said an official from Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

As dependable modes for exchange of information, exhibitions are being globally recognised as the pertinent medium for doing business today. The current slowdown in the gem and jewellery market is the idyllic time for the industry to showcase its presence on exhibition floor, as the industry is very much in a position to reinforce its tenacity, strength and collaborative nature.In fact, in tough market conditions, it becomes all the more imperative for all businesses to show greater visibility, strong fundamentals and continuation of businesses. The platform is ideal for exhibitors to nurture the trust and confidence across the supply chain, is the general consensus amongst all the players.

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