Most recently the German Sportswear brand Timezone announced that they won’t exhibit at the January Panorama edition in Berlin. Since the brand was part of the Berlin fair circus from the beginning we talked to Sven Schlager, Head of Marketing & E-Commerce, and Alexander Haß, Head of Sales DACH, about the reasons behind this and the future orientation of the brand.
You’ve always been at the Berlin fairs. Why did you decide on not exhibiting in Berlin this January?
Sven Schlager (SSCH): We’ve been struggling with this decision for quite some time and we didn’t take it easily. But for Timezone, we see more important topics at the moment than a resource intensive fair presentation. The challenges are clearly in the support of retail and sale, that’s why we want to focus our activities for 2017 much stronger on this field.
Is the decision also based on the fact that you have not seen yourself represented in the right brand environment in Berlin? Which brands would you have wished to see or which ones did you miss?
SSCH: The brand environment of course plays an important role for a successful fair. But that wasn’t what we focused on in decision-making in the first place so we don’t want to mention concrete names.
You want to save money by not attending the fair and invest into retail to enhance margins and intensify partnerships. What do these exactly look like? And which goals do you have in numbers saying you want to increase more in depth?
Alexander Haß (AH): Nowadays in retail it’s not all about sales volume anymore, but it is important to find shared solutions with retail partners for optimal sales. We therefore integrated the Timezone partner concept to find cooperative solutions for product presentations and all-year line planning via staggered spatial layouts. The investments relate directly to sales.
What’s the feedback of your retail partners?
AH: Until now we have received good feedback from our retailers relating the smooth customer service and our sales representatives. The cooperation has grown over the years and is part of our fair brand philosophy.
And on which strategy do you bet on when it comes to winning customers?
SSCH: We are back to focus more on direct contact. Relaxed at local retailers, in our new showrooms in Munich & Düsseldorf or in our beautiful company headquarter in Brannenburg. We will also invite (potential) partners to visiting our headquarters, since a visit to the HQ, of course, can be quite different in terms of content and emotion than a short conversation in Berlin. In a world of small talk and non-committal digital life, we want to sit down at the table with the partner, and we are deliberately taking the time to jointly drive the existing partnership or start new partnerships with the right energy.
The issue of relevance of the trade fairs has been discussed over and over or still very critically for several seasons. What is the significance of trade fairs from your point of view? What can trade fairs still deliver today? And for whom are fairs still attractive?
SSCH: The relevance has to be answered by everyone for themselves. And this answer can be very different, depending on where a brand stands precisely in its strategy and development. For us, we have noticed that - as of today - the effect on new customers and the further development of relationships with existing customers cannot be achieved by the trade fair appearance. Although, we have always had a very strong presence in the past seasons, which has consistently mirrored the brand strategy, which has been updated in 2015.