Germany’s international trade fairs are grand scale events. Tendence, the annual showcase for living and giving in Frankfurt, is no exception. One Kiwi exhibitor making the pilgrimage this year is ceramics designer and manufacturer Foreign Accents.
For Gill Williams, director of New Zealand export firm Foreign Accents, 2017 will be the first time she will be attending Tendence in Frankfurt as an exhibitor.
“We currently exhibit at the Singapore IFF, Hong Kong houseware and the Hong Kong mega show, and we’ve previously exhibited at Ambiente in Germany, but this is our first time at Tendence,” she says.
For exhibitors and visitors to Tendence – it’s all about timing. Tendence is billed as Germany’s most international order fair for the second half of the year. It’s a showcase of new product ideas around ‘living and giving’ – covering products for the home, furnishing, decorating, jewellery, fashion accessories, home textiles and outdoor product segments. Well-known brands and key communicators use the Tendence platform to present the latest trends for the coming northern hemisphere Winter and Christmas season and, at the same time, offer international bulk-buying trading companies the opportunity to place timely orders for their spring and summer collections.
With 22,742 visitors from 79 countries attending Tendence in 2016 and similar numbers expected for this year’s event between June 24th and 27th, Gill’s looking forward to some serious sales in Frankfurt over those four days.
Gill and daughter Domini had long been admirers of vintage Vietnamese ceramics and originally set-up Foreign Accents to recreate the antiques with a ‘modern East-West fusion’. The company began working with a factory in Hanoi 15 years ago and the partnership is still going strong today.
As designers and manufacturers of ceramic home décor items, Gill and Domini say the toughest challenges they face is around quality control, cultural differences from working in a foreign country, and the vigilance needed to protect their intellectual property (IP).
Trade fairs like Tendence are essential for getting the Foreign Accents brand out into the world-wide market, Gill explains, as well as establishing long-standing business relationships with international buyers.
Foreign Accents is now a seasoned trade fair exhibitor offshore, and knows the importance of going to fairs fully prepared.
“There are two matters to consider,” says Gill. “The construction and display of your stand, and then the logistics of getting your product and display material to the [host] country and making the sales.
“You must know your market and what each country requires in regard to product specification, production times and minimum quantities.”
Of course, exhibiting at any international trade fair also requires a healthy budget.
“You need to be aware that booth hire is only a small part of the cost,” says Gill. “You also need to hire furniture – and sometimes even electricity doesn’t come free of charge.”
Hiring an interpreter for the duration of the fair is often recommended. But Gill says, from experience, that it is unlikely you would require one.
“Be mindful of choosing a suitable fair for your market,” she adds. “If you are not sure if a particular fair is for you, then my advice is to attend as a visitor first.”
Both Gill and Domini admit that if it wasn't for international trade fairs they would simply not have a successful business.
“It is a very positive and enjoyable way of marketing,” says Gill.
Tendence and many other trade fairs in Germany are world leading events, says Robert Laing, Messe Frankfurt’s New Zealand representative.
“There are fairs around the world in many different countries; most cost more or less the same to participate at. The advantage of events in Germany is that all the leading buyers from every country are there. Even if you’re just focused on one or two countries, you can be assured the key people from those countries will be attending – as well as key people from every other nation.”
Article by Glenn Baker, editor of NZBusiness and exportertoday.co.nz