At the IAW – International Trade Fair for Retail Promotions and Imports in Cologne – a total of 310 exhibitors from 22 countries showcased seasonal merchandise for impulse purchasing and sales promotions, as well as special products for volume business. Occupying a total area of 26,000 m² in the fully booked Hall 10.2, the display was attended by 8,612 visitors from across the world. With obvious satisfaction the organizer, Ulrich Zimmermann, director of Nordwestdeutsche Messegesellschaft Bremen-Hannover mbH, summed up the event in clear terms: “For more than a decade this trade fair has experienced continuous growth and has established its credentials as a leading showcase for this sector.”
The figures are convincing, but at the same time the quality of the business talks and discussions also impressed: “We took part for the first time and were positively surprised by the very positive response we received”, reports Dominik Kahn, Head of Distribution for the Hamburg-based Gift Company Vertriebsgesellschaft. “In particular, we recognized that the IAW is not only about selling bargain-priced goods and surplus stock. There is also keen demand for high-quality fashionable products and promotional products”, concluded Kahn.
The IAW was able to reaffirm its status as the top event for orders: “This year our activities here focused on our range of glasses and we were able to sign contracts with some leading German traders”, said Norbert Schildgen, the owner of a trading business based in Herne. “We have tried other trade fairs but the IAW is quite simply our trade fair of choice.”
Autumnal and Christmas products dominated. One key seasonal trend was demonstrated by the company Duif from the Netherlands, which exhibited ready-assembled decorative arrangements: “Our glass vases with arrangements of ornamental balls, twigs or figures to form a complete set proved very popular among visitors to our stands”, reveals distribution manager Arjen Walhout. The traditional red and green colours of Christmas will not be the exclusive trend colours this season; consumers will also favour various pastel tones and bright, vibrant hues. Peter Marx, director of PM Euro-Trading GmbH, also exhibited popular products for the lucrative Christmas trade. He used the trade fair as a platform for informing potential buyers about his range of around 700 different Father Christmas figures and reported: “Year after year, the IAW proves its worth to us.”
The international flair of the event continues to increase: “Among the 65 first-time exhibitors there were numerous companies from Eastern Europe, including Poland and Romania, as well as new exhibitors from Spain, Portugal and Malta”, explains trade fair organizer Kerstin Manke. The verdict of these new exhibitors was positive: “We are more than satisfied and will definitely be here next time”, said Nick T. Fischer, who works in distribution for Oceanic Import in Murcia, Spain. “The opening day was excellent for us, and we are generally enthusiastic about the broad interest shown and the new contacts”, concluded export manager Kevin Brough from the Laltex Group, Manchester, which exhibited clothing and accessories at the IAW. The event saw a clear increase in the number of trade visitors from outside Germany. In particular, many exhibitors commented on the marked increase in the number of visitors from Scandinavian countries.
Many of the trade fair stands featured technical products and electronic gadgets. For example, drones and electric scooters attracted considerable attention, but it was an apparently mundane product which proved most popular: a rubbish bag which immediately eliminates bad odours (as opposed to disguising them). Quickpack Haushalt und Hygiene GmbH from southern German Renningen therefore won this year’s IAW Trendseller Product Award. “It was quickly apparent to us that this product solves an age-old problem without costing much more than the conventional bag. It has a unique selling point and we believe it has big market potential”, explained Ulrich Eggert, the Cologne marketing expert and jury chairman.
At the Trendforum 13 high-calibre speakers addressed the key issues facing retailers, including trends and developments in e-commerce, successful psychological pricing methods, logistics and distribution based on Amazon.
The next IAW will take place from 7-9 March 2016 in Cologne. For the first time, two days of the IAW will run parallel to the INTERNATIONAL HARDWARE FAIR. This is expected to generate further benefits for exhibitors, buyers and trade visitors to both events.