Fruit Logistica 2013 - Standing Out
How do you make your business stand out at a trade show covering over 102,000 square metres across 24 halls, each almost the size of a football pitch? Size? Sex? Humour? History? And is it necessary?
It has been 3 weeks since my first visit to Fruit Logistica and this is one of the questions that's been on my mind.
Before my visit everyone impressed upon me the size of Logistica. Figures released by the Berlin Messe show that 2013 was bigger than ever.
Over 3 days 58,000 visitors from 130 countries pouring like termites over 2,543 exhibitors from 78 countries representing a sizeable proportion of the 1.6bn tonnes for fruit and vegetables produced globally in 2012.*
I took some comfortable shoes.
Fruit Logistica exhibitors and visitors face many challenges; different business types from an array of countries and cultures speaking a host of languages and dialects promoting a their country, region, products and services to a fast flowing river of bodies each with their own business or personal agenda.
There were some broad themes that emerged which, with the inevitable risk of generalization, were as follows:
- Blank Canvas/Modernist - White backdrop arrayed with fresh produce, pictures or graphics.
- Say it Loud** - Controlled or riotous colour use
- Sex sells - More specifically, the fairer sex sells
- Big is beautiful - Enormous even more so
- Rustic & regional
- Brought kitchen sink
So is there a secret to standing out? Over 3 days I spoke to just over 40 exhibitors and visitors from a selection of businesses and countries which delivered some interesting responses to the following questions:
What are your objectives for Logistica?
- "The global supply chain means that even the smallest regional producers can now enjoy and suffer the effects of a global market. We come to see what is happening in the global context."
- "To bring the team together to meet each other, our customers and our suppliers"
- Comment from a transnational business
- "To meet our customers and to see what the competition are doing."
- Comment from a single country business
What is the strategy to deliver your objectives?
- "We tell all the stakeholders we want to meet where we are going to be and set up dates and time to meet up. Our stand is our shop front so it needs to be easy to find and impressive"
- "We know who we want to see so we arrange meetings around the show, often away from our stand."
- "We are a brand. Our approach is to demonstrate this unequivocally to stakeholders and competitors through our stand and ambassadors"
What single thing makes Fruit Logistica so successful?
- "Many new products and services are launched at Fruit Logistica so it is good to be here to see what is new."
- "Logistica provides a forum away from the office where we can have more honest and open conversations with our customers and with our suppliers."
- "It ís where, once a year, we meet up with colleagues, customers and old friends."
Preaching to the converted
This anecdotal comment canvassed from a small percentage of the people attending the event cannot represent all views. That said, it is interesting to note that the stated objective of those interviewed was to engage with people with whom they already do business.
If strengthening existing relationships is a preeminent driver for attending Logistica then the need to stand out is perhaps less important because visitors and exhibitors know who they will be talking to.
They could meet in the pub instead.
Some of the investment in the Logistica stands ran to several hundred thousand pounds, if not more, especially for country stands like the host Peru. Preaching to the converted seems a curious basis for such an enormous investment. Perhaps then vanity has a role to play, global status - "We're a player" - regional or inter country rivalry - "Mine ís bigger and better than yours" - big boys and girls fighting proxy wars for their share of the global fruit bowl or vegetable frittata.
Shooting fish in a barrel
Of course itís rarely that simple. There were a huge number of different and competing objectives for each of the 2,543 exhibitors.
The fact that 58,000 people including potential customers from retail, food service, growing and packing businesses attend means Logistica is a convenient and enjoyable occasion to engage with what is happening in important areas of global fresh produce. And there is always the scope for picking up new business.
A further opportunity to stand out is in-show marketing - exhibitors exhibiting to each other along the supply chain.
Seed companies and engineering firms to growers; growers and engineers to packers; growers and packers to retailers; perhaps even growers to other growers to encourage joint promotion of a mutual interest.
Sowing the seeds
With the ongoing European economic woe, penultimate customers (e.g. retailers) may be using Logistica more to woo suppliers. Innovative products - Flower Sprouts®, Angelo® seedless pepper, Intense® Tomato, Afourer® tangerines - can help retailers differentiate their own offer.
Perhaps the current media frenzy over horse meat substitution, partly as a result of supplier margins being squeezed until the pips squeaked, will result in a more collaborative partnership between all elements of the supply chain.
We can but hope Logistica provides the forum.
Standing out in a crowd
Logistica is of course a useful global forum for businesses networking with partners, for showcasing and differentiating their offer.
Exhibiting at Fruit Logistica calls for significant financial, human resources & demands measures that justify the investment. When the objective is to grow sales by forging closer relationships with existing partners, research to provide relationship benchmarks should be given serious consideration
If you have the resources to do it Gangnam Style with PSY like the Wonderful® brand then so much the better. Enjoy the Wonderful® flashmob.
To see this article in a lovely flipsnack book please follow this link to Meet in a pub or go to Berlin?
* figures courtesy of www.berlin-messe.de
**With due deference to the Godfather of Soul