Every trade fair organizer wants to see highly frequented halls, every trade fair organizer is anxious to offer exhibitors and visitors something exciting. The fact that this is becoming increasingly difficult with the existing concepts is currently a permanent topic and is also known to the creators of Panorama Berlin, who after this edition will be even more confronted with the challenges of dwindling visitor numbers, increasingly dissatisfied exhibitors and the desire for innovations.
"I'm not a trade fair organizer, it's not my job to think about what a new event might look like. I can only reflect what I hear from our customers, visitors and retailers. If I am honest, then we are not satisfied, we have very few new customers, there is simply a lack of innovations, just as Bread & Butter did at the time,” sums up Dr. Hans-Rainer Rehfeld, managing director of Broadway Fashion GmbH.
Ibo Ücel, owner of the newcomer label Stitchy, also sees problems on the retailer side: "You simply have to say that it is difficult for many retailers to overcome these distances. It is always said that retailers are looking for new, fresh brands, but I have the feeling that they don't have time to be really inspired. No more looking left and right, just checking off what they have on their list. There's not much room for anything new."
Heiko Holzapfel, co-owner of Miracle of Denim, shares this opinion: "There's nothing to talk nice about here, the development is not good. It needs a new concept. Of course we also had new customers here and there at our booth, but you can't be satisfied with the result. This is a general development in the market. The small retailer who concentrates on just one thing and stays with the familiar will have a hard time in the future, and I think he will no longer exist in that form. The future is concept stores."
Despite all the criticism, there were also positive voices, for example from Tom Tailor: “We have been able to reach all trading partners to introduce the two new strategic product lines My True Me and Mine to Five and have had very high traffic but also very good quality conversations. The pure number of visitors is therefore not relevant for us, but rather the quality and content of the conversations. In general, every concept needs further development, so this also applies to the trade fairs in Berlin,” says Tom Tailor CEO Heiko Schäfer.
Christie Elisabeth Lyngfeldt Carstensen, sales manager of Noisy May, comments similarly: "We are satisfied with the outcome of the fair. We know that this fair is mainly dominated by German visitors, but we made appointments and the visibility is important." Bertram M. Laufer, country manager, Germany for Petrol Industries: "Sure, it's not super satisfying, the trade fair organizers themselves know that, something has to be done. But we are not dissatisfied throughout, we also had good discussions and new customers at the stand."
Conclusion: It remains difficult. More than ever. There are many reasons for this and these should also be taken into consideration. However, the important question for exhibitors and trade fair organizers should be: Why doesn't a retailer come anymore? Is it the many locations that have to be visited in Berlin? Is the competition better in France, UK, Italy? Is it the offer of the brands? Is the range too large and too much?
Of course there is no ONE reason. Rather, there are many different factors in the market, from the range of brands on offer to the retail trade's actions and the buying behavior of customers, which have an influence on this development. And in the end, the thought 'Who should buy all this?' always creeps into your mind when you're walking around the trade fairs.
For the retailer this means in concrete terms: Would less goods in the shop perhaps be better? Instead, curate more, choose more courageously, focus more intensively on advice and thereby stand out and differentiate? Especially in view of the results of the current TW panel, which show that the German fashion retail segment is shrinking and that sales in the first six months of the year have fallen by an average of 1% compared to the previous year, a change in the German retail trade is inevitable and necessary. But it also means the brands must sharpen their collections even better to stand out, especially when you hear from an exhibitor that there are simply too many brands on the market that offer similar products and honestly admits that his own jeans are interchangeable and that this applies to some brands.
Jörg Wichmann, Managing Director Panorama, also expressed his understanding about the disappointment of some exhibitors: "Yes, I can understand that. One hundred percent satisfaction will never be achieved. Let's take a better look at those who were satisfied despite the same challenges. These are those who always work at full speed on their concepts, who further develop products, marketing and sales and who inform their visitors long before the fair with the right message. This goes far beyond the range of collections and it is precisely here that those who are not satisfied have to optimise their trade fair marketing and invitation management and work on their concept and message. We offer the platform and matchmaking. The product and the corresponding concept to enter into a partnership with the trade must come from the brand. There is no other location in Europe that offers such a diverse range of fashion twice a year as Berlin."
After talks with exhibitors and visitors at Panorama, it becomes clear that Berlin is considered a strong trade fair location and that there is a great desire to combine the trade fairs at one location. It remains exciting to see how Panorama will position itself in January and what changes there will be until then. They are definitely desirable–for everyone involved.