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Articles from EDUCATION / TRAINING (185 Articles), MARKETING (104 Articles), BUYING GROUPS (83 Articles)

Gary Fitz-Roy
Gary Fitz-Roy
 










Jewellery trade fairs more important than ever

I’ve watched the Australian jewellery industry evolve for 20 years and some of the changes mean that trade fairs have become more important, not less important. 

As expected, there has been great change in the jewellery market, just as there has been in every Australian industry. From humble beginnings in 1992 when we could only manage half a hall, to the enormous event that is now the trade fair of international standards, perhaps one of the most significant changes I have witnessed is the reduction in sales reps ‘on the road’.

It’s not a problem unique to the jewellery industry; with huge increases in fuel and insurance costs, the expense of sales staff and the ever increasing issues of robbery, it’s no wonder the good ‘old fashioned’ sales rep is in decline. 

 
All these issues coupled with the growing importance of the internet mean that many industries are losing the personal touch. That’s why I believe that trade fairs have become more important.

The core reason for trade fairs is obvious; for buyers to meet with existing, and new sellers. But what is often overlooked is that fairs also provide a way for those in the industry to network and help each other. 
 
In addition, suppliers now coordinate much of their product launches and marketing strategies, including the vital Christmas selling period, around the fair dates, and we have seen greater activity of many leading suppliers arranging visitor appointments in advance of the fair.

In other words, a trade fair becomes a rallying point for the industry and that’s one of the reasons why we established a third fair in Melbourne earlier this year.

2012 will be a special year because for the first time, all three buying groups will have a lounge and strong presence at all three fairs, not just Sydney. The buying groups not only help in attracting visitors, but in organising specific activities and events for members, further enhancing the awareness of all facets of the jewellery industry.

Many people seem to think a successful fair is just about getting numbers through the door - I disagree. It’s the quality of the audience that’s important, not the quantity. An exhibitor once said to me, “I would rather have 1,000 committed buyers at the fair than 10,000 tyre kickers.” He’s correct! In fact that’s one of the reasons why we have tightened-up the visitor registration process.

While a trade fair is an industry-wide event, many exhibitors said that too many non-buyers (suppliers, agents, distributors and their competitors) were taking an unfair advantage at the fair. 
 
While exhibiting at a trade fair might not be ideal for all suppliers, it’s unfair for those that take the time to plan and book to be there to have other, non-paying suppliers roaming the aisles conducting what one exhibitor has described as, “gathering market intelligence about competitors.”

It’s a complex issue. There’s a fine line in organising an industry-wide event that brings everyone together while ensuring paid exhibitors are not disadvantaged by those that choose not to exhibit - while ensuring we provide an ideal occasion for all visitors. After all, trade fairs are organised for visitors (buyers), not exhibitors (sellers) and if buyers aren’t at the fair, then exhibitors have no one to sell to!

For years we have said that whilst it’s our job to deliver the audience, it’s the exhibitor’s responsibility to stand out by having great ranges, new products, exclusive offers and experienced sales staff at their stands to attract you – the retail buyer.

Going forward, as an event organiser we expect the three jewellery fairs to get better with increased emphasis on fashion shows and greater representation from the major buying groups.

We live in uncertain times; natural disasters, economic pressures and a lack of consumer confidence at the moment all add to the challenge of running a successful retail business. Like you, we face challenges too, and my industry is evolving also.

As a visitor to our fairs (retailer) or an exhibitor (supplier) you have to make a choice - you can ignore what’s happening around you and view the glass as ‘half empty’ or you can do the best you possibly can and operate with a glass ‘half full’ attitude.

The Australian jewellery fairs will continue to evolve, and as event organisers we look forward to meeting the challenges of the ever-changing market while delivering an event that meets the needs of the entire jewellery industry.

Gary Fitz-Roy is managing dircetor of Expertise Events, the organiser of Australia's jewellery industry trade fairs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.









Jesse-Leigh Elford Photography
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