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Day 1 - IFA International

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Trade News A Strategic

Trade News A Strategic Must Dixons IT buyer gives insights into a successful visit at IFA Mark Slater, Computing Category Director at UK retail chain Dixons sees plenty of reasons to be present in Berlin each year. His biggest challenge is in coping with the size of the show. IFA is so big, it’s a question of how best to navigate the show and ensure that we spot the key trends and new products! We stay for three days, which is short, but we “Because IFA is so big it’s a question of how best to navigate the show and ensure that we spot the key trends and new products.” How would you describe IFA to a colleague who has never been? It really brings together all the key manufacturers and all our partners, which makes it a really efficient way to spend our time. Plus the time of year is perfect in terms of spotting things that might be important the following year, and often what we see and hear about while we’re there genuinely inform some of our big decisions by helping us to spot emerging macro pack it with as much as we possibly can. So I’ll have a couple of days of four or five meetings per day with our key partners, and they can last for anything up to two hours. But it is important to just go round and see people on their stands as well. Plus I always visit the showcase area where all the ‘best of the best’ products are displayed. What are the biggest trends that you’re seeing this year judging by what is selling Dixons’ shops? Mobile devices, and beyond that there is a big move towards convergence. The underlying trend here is that multi-function devices such as smartphones are perceived as cannibalising other product areas, especially among singlefunction devices. But they are also creating whole new areas of opportunity such as apps and accessories. How important is sustainability to your customers? We don’t actively promote any ‘green’ message but it’s clear that our customers are more aware of things trends, which helps us with our planning cycle. Plus we are seeing all manner of new products and the evolution of existing trends, which again is very useful back in Britain in terms of developing marketing elements such as the online experience for new products, and even rearranging the shops to get the best out of new lines. This year we have 16 people attending, and when we get back, each product category director will be making a presentation to management about what they have seen and how it will impact on strategy. Dixons’ Mark Slater: “a big move towards convergence” like recycling opportunities. We’re very proud of our trade-in and recycling initiatives, much of which is done in-house and which cover a wide range of products. Does a product having won an EISA award resonate with your customers? We currently don’t include it in customer-facing promotion, but we are increasingly looking at how we might use various industry awards, including EISA, in marketing products. What is your secret to a successful visit to IFA? Have a good plan of what you’re going to be doing every day, bring a good pair of shoes because you’ll be doing a lot of walking, and don’t pick up too many catalogues. THE DEAL MAKERS The Austrian Viewpoint: Consumers in small markets have specific wants and needs Conrad Electronics Ralph Schallmeiner Category Manager, Entertainment Electronics Smaller European countries such as Austria often have markedly different market dynamics when compared to their larger neighbours. Ralph Schallmeiner, Category Manager, Entertainment Electronics, Conrad Electronics will be back at IFA this year to better understand trends. He says Austrian consumers have specific wants and needs... How does Austria differ as a market? Ultimately, it’s the customer who decides what sells. Despite the fact that Smart TVs are selling well in many other territories, in Austria it’s not really the case. Technology is not the most important thing to Austrians, usability is more important. If a colleague asked you to describe IFA, what would you say? Two words, big and important! It’s the main CE trade fair for Europe and increasingly it is replacing other smaller events that I used to attend. It’s very important to be there because you can pick up on the big trends, and even if they don’t necessarily automatically apply to Austria, you do need to be aware of them. How long do you usually spend at IFA? Last year, I only came for two days and frankly it just was not enough, because there’s so much to see. So this year I’ll be around for four days. For the first two days I have one meeting per hour, then for the last two, I’ll be going round checking out products, looking for new potential partners and trends. What are you seeing as being the biggest trends? Last year, most people thought it would be tablet PCs, but frankly it wasn’t huge here in Austria. But we do think that this could be a good year for 3D TVs, because customers are asking for them. LG’s passive 3D technology, which people like because they know it from the cinema, is selling very well right now. We are very connected to what our customers want. In effect, they tell us what the trends are. I also think that smartphones and cloud storage also look set to be big this year. What is the secret of a successful IFA? Before you go there, listen to what your customers are saying. Then when you get to IFA, use that in discussions and see how your partners react, and what might be possible. www.ifa-international.org IFA International • Friday 31 st August 2012 41

IFA International