Consumer Goods Digital Day convinced with practical solutions for the future of the industry

The ten-hour Consumer Goods Digital Day impressed with a first-class conference programme, concentrated networking and numerous ordering opportunities. 3,658 participants from 93 countries were provided with valuable impulses for the challenging future of retail at the live event.

Looking and walking forward together. Courage for new things and for change. Consistent orientation towards changing customer needs and converting one’s own business to digital before it is too late – these are the overarching messages that the Consumer Goods Digital Day gave the 3,658 participants from 93 countries.

“What we could not – and did not want to – replace at the Consumer Goods Digital Day is the personal encounter at our trade fairs. Rather, after more than a year of the pandemic, we have satisfied the hunger for inspiration, business exchange and order for the moment. That is our digital support in these times. That’s why the Digital Day was an excellent pit stop until the personal encounter is possible again without restrictions”, summarises Detlef Braun, Member of the Board of Management of Messe Frankfurt GmbH.

The fact that personal exchange is irreplaceable in business is also emphasised by Christian Haeser, Managing Director of Handelsverband Wohnen und Büro e.V. (HWB): “The cancellations of the physical trade fairs this year were extremely painful for all industry players and have left a gap for trade and industry. Today, Messe Frankfurt has succeeded in coming close to closing this gap with the Consumer Goods Digital Day. The topical and interactive mix of lectures, workshops, trend shows, matchmaking and ordering via Nextrade were a complete success and have brought a bit of normality back to our specialist retailers. Messe Frankfurt has managed to set a digital benchmark against which every digital event will have to measure itself in the future. Nevertheless, a digital platform cannot be a 1:1 substitute for the personal encounter at the trade fair on site. I am sure that digital networking will establish itself as a hybrid, value-added component of any national/international trade fair.”

3,658 participants used the digital live event to position themselves well for the future challenges in business and to exchange ideas. 59 percent of the participants joined the event from abroad. Retailers from a wide range of sectors and industries were active – from interior design, Christmas and garden decoration, gifts, household appliances, kitchen, tableware and stationery to office, school and florist supplies – and made lively use of the platform’s communication and exchange opportunities.

New food for thought and tangible learnings

In the current volatile situation characterised by temporary shop closures, pre-booked retail appointments, new product presentations via web conferences and exponential growth rates in online retailing, only a consistent look ahead can help. The Consumer Goods Digital Day gave retailers new food for thought at just the right time to tide them over until the next trade fair visit, which can be directly applied to business.

Award-winning keynote speaker and digital business consultant Sanjay Sauldie opened the Consumer Goods Digital Day with a rousing plea to actively shape the digital transformation. “We need to act locally together, think networked with retailers in the immediate neighbourhood. Your neighbour is your friend, not your enemy,” was his appeal to the consumer goods industry. Thus, he said, the retail trade must become a community trade. For this, he said, stationary trade should concentrate on its strengths and, for example, form a joint online presence of shopping streets in a city with a central shop. “Put the customer at the centre of all your considerations and don’t stop constantly questioning what you are doing, just like successful start-ups do,” the renowned speaker emphasised.

Frank Rehme also made it clear that Corona offers the best learning field for digitalisation: “Digitalisation was often postponed because people didn’t have time to take care of it. In the lockdown, however, we don’t work in the business, but on the business. Now is the time to take care of the online business.”

Boris Hedde, Managing Director of the Institute for Retail Research (IFH) Cologne, agrees with this tenor in his presentation on the study “Vital city centres in times of the pandemic”: “Goodbye shopping city, welcome experience city. All power emanates from the visitors to a city. We have to think consistently from this perspective in order to increase frequencies again. Even by far, shopping is still the main motive for visiting city centres. The more attractive the experience, the better cities are rated. A great advantage that now needs to be complemented by digital services.”

In her presentation, Marilyn Repp pointed out that despite the online boom, brick-and-mortar retail still has important unique selling points. The project manager of the Retail Competence Centre emphasises: “Stationary retail is increasingly becoming an experience creator and thus has decisive advantages over online shops: personal advice, immediate availability of goods and the experience potential. Because digital experiences do not come close to analogue experiences. Despite their online affinity, young people also love individual advice on site. Stationary retail can thus still be attractive for this target group – as long as advisors succeed in giving even well-informed shoppers convincing impulses.”

Outlook on the most important trends and changing customer needs

Which trends are currently shaping the global consumer goods industry and which needs are gaining importance in the home/home office and in the office? These questions were of particular interest to many participants. To this end, the style agency bora.herke.palmisano presented the Ambiente, Christmasworld and Paperworld Trends 2021, the coming colours and materials that strike a chord with the times: “The new way of working and the “new home” also have a major influence on trends. A major focus here is on sustainability. DIY, repair and second-hand are definitely coming in the new season”, says trend expert Claudia Herke.

There is no way around the megatopic of sustainability. Sustainability is both a social issue and a target group issue; the Greta-effect triggered this development and the pandemic. “Sustainability is not the question of how much organic we are, but the question of what attitude we represent. That what they do, they do it authentically and properly. You can also start with small steps first. For example, with sustainable offers for their own employees before they approach sustainable assortment development,” said Silvia Talmon from The Retail Academy and gave the participants valuable practical examples.

In addition, the last panel discussion of the day in particular called for a consistent focus on the rapidly changing values of consumers. After all, what, according to the trend experts at Fashionsnoops, began as a result of the pandemic with a stronger interest in baking bread, gardening, DIY and do-it-yourself projects and even raising chickens, is developing into a new passion for self-sufficiency and a strong connection with nature. Moreover, the pandemic has not only made the home office socially acceptable worldwide in record time, but also ushered in the new New Work era much faster: “working from anywhere” – people enjoy an unprecedented new normal of personal mobility. And of course, health and wellness are paramount in the post-pandemic lifestyle. Our personal spaces are also becoming an important sanctuary.

Digital events as a permanent addition to trade fairs

Interested parties will still have the opportunity to view selected recorded content and additional material from individual speakers afterwards on Messe Frankfurt’s knowledge platform for the consumer goods sector – Conzoom Solutions. In addition, the Nextrade digital B2B ordering platform is available to the trade 365 days a year.

The four consumer-goods trade fairs Christmasworld, Paperworld and Creativeworld as well as Ambiente will be held as usual again in 2022 and will also be supplemented by digital platforms in the future. The concept of a digital trade fair supplement will thus be retained in the coming years.

Christmasworld: 28 January to 1 February 2022

Paperworld and Creativeworld:  29 January to 1 February 2022

Ambiente: 11 to 15 February 2022

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