IAW closes on a high note in Cologne


International Trade Fair for Promotional Products and Imports celebrates sensational anniversary. Another record in the number of exhibitors and visitors, a surprise celebrity guest and lively parties at the stands made the 15th anniversary of this leading trade fair for trends and orders truly remarkable.

Three “glorious” days of business have come to an end. The IAW, which closed its gates last week in Cologne, was completely booked out with 285 exhibitors from 16 countries. Numerous exhibitors have already booked stand space for the next trade fair in September. An attendance of over 8,000 trade visitors (10 % up on the last autumn event) marked another new record which documented the continuous growth of the IAW. “It was a huge celebration of the trade”, said Ulrich Zimmermann, managing director of Nordwestdeutsche Messegesellschaft Bremen-Hannover mbH in Oldenburg. He continued enthusiastically: “The dramatic increase in the numbers of exhibitors and visitors shows that the IAW has established itself as the no. 1 platform for our sector. At this spring fair we have seen buyers and importers doing excellent business.”

One of the companies that has taken part in the IAW from the very beginning is Top Action. Managing director Ernst Vasterling remains committed and enthusiastic: “For us and for many colleagues like us, the IAW is the ultimate platform for promotional products. This trade fair is not simply a magnet for visitors but also an invaluable source of information. Twice a year we can come here knowing that we will always find a concentrated overview of the market and discover what is happening across our business sector.” By contrast, German company Schmees took part in the IAW for the first time with a selection of cosmetics, cleaning products and fertilizers. They reported: “Our expectations were more than fulfilled. We were able to hold extensive talks with many of our customers and introduce them to our latest product ranges.” Another newcomer to the event was Hanse Home Collection. Said S. Taher was pleased by the outcome: “During the last couple of days we were able to make good contacts. Now we are eager to see what happens in the coming days and weeks.” Representatives from Stock Event came all the way from France to exhibit in Cologne. They too reported that their participation in the promotional goods fair had been a success. Dimitar Georgiev commented: “The trade fair is very well organized and opens up a lot of potential for our company.”

Exhibitors and visitors alike were impressed by the broad product range and an informative and interesting supporting program. With a line-up of high-calibre speakers from the world of retailing and marketing, the Trend Forum was a real highlight which underlined the professional character of the IAW. These experts delivered talks on a variety of topics that suggest new business models and trade channels of the future. It was an area which Ulrich Eggert from Eggert Consulting (Cologne) examined in some depth. In an interactive presentation “Digital Communication 2.0: Pain or Pleasure?” Sonja Sturm (communication expert, business and life coach) and Tosin A. David (GF Marcellino’s Academy for Sales Promotion) offered ideas and solutions for mastering the Internet and digital communication. Martina Schimmel, editor in chief of zentrada.magazin, moderated the zentrada Forum, which focussed on the question: “Facebook, Twitter & Co – what do I really need as a trader?” Speaking on the third day of the trade fair, Carsten Röhl (Google Adwords Specialist) had an attentive audience as he explained how company websites can get to the top of the search list by using Google Adwords.

One of the other highlights of the trade fair was the presentation of the prestigious Trendseller Product Awards. The product selected as the most outstanding potential best-seller was SnapTheMusic software from the Liechtenstein-based company Four Star AG. With this program it is possible to select songs from various Internet radio stations and legally download them to an mp3 player. The software is really easy to use and suitable for people who do not use the Internet frequently. Second place went to the importer Bahama Warenvertriebs GmbH (Berlin), which entered a set of suitcases with an integrated scale in the handle. Third place was secured by the company Hannebohm (Lengerich) for a variable fencing system which can be erected without concrete or tools to create an attractive and practical alternative to normal fences. The Finnish company Tammer Tukku was awarded fourth place for ToolsGrip – a patented solution designed to improve job safety and simplify work when working with tools. All the winners were pleased to receive the award, not least because over the last few years the winners’ accolade has been proven to influence product success.

Some of the exhibitors decided to mark the anniversary of the IAW with something special. For example, Brazilian footballer and contestant in the German TV program “I’m a Celebrity … Get me out of here”, exhibited his energy drink “Kugelblitz” at the stand staged by Yücel Trading from Ostteinbek in North Germany. In a similarly striking fashion the Cologne-based Zitra GmbH invited exhibitors and trade fair visitors to a get-together with music and Kölsch (a local Cologne beer). Another local company from Cologne, CFD Handels GmbH, attracted a lot of attention with a cookery show and live music from a brass band.   

“Moving into the bigger Hall 10.2 paid off”, concluded Ulrich Zimmermann. “Traders and buyers benefitted from the bigger spectrum of products displayed and everyone spoke positively about the improvements.” Looking forward to the next trade fair, the IAW boss said: “The September show looks like being another great event. A lot of interest is already being shown by our regular exhibitors, but many new companies seem to have discovered the IAW platform too and have registered their intention of being there next time.” The next IAW will run from 25-27 September in Cologne.

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