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Biofach / Vivaness E-Special: "70 per cent of the participants drew a positive balance"

by Katrin Muhl (comments: 0)

Danila Brunner and Petra Wolf
Danila Brunner, Head of Biofach and Vivaness, and Petra Wolf, Member of the Management Board of Messe Nürnberg, spoke to about both the past and the upcoming world's leading trade fair. © Nürnberg Messe

In this interview, Danila Brunner and Petra Wolf look back on the digital version of Biofach and Vivaness - and give a first preview of how the trade fair duo could play out next year.

Participants of the Biofach and Vivaness experienced the E-Special from "overwhelming" to "nerve-wracking". How was the trade show for you, "on the other side of the platform" so to speak?

Petra Wolf: Our discussions and evaluations, which are currently still ongoing, also show a great deal of positivity, but also the challenges that undoubtedly exist at such a premiere. And this is in line with our impressions and the feedback from our customers on the exhibitor and visitor side.

For us, the Biofach and Vivaness 2021 E-Special was the best possible alternative to an on-site event, which was not possible due to the pandemic. And this is how we experienced the trade fair on the other side: As a variant that digitally translated the three elements of exhibitor presentations, networking and congress, and was gratifyingly well received by over 13,800 participants. But also as an event format that clearly demonstrated the anticipation of 2022 and a meeting here on site in Nuremberg for the annual international industry get-together.

What feedback have you received from participants?

Danila Brunner: We received a lot of positive feedback from our customers, but also differentiated feedback. First and foremost, many were delighted that the trade fair duo could take place, even if it was purely digital. The Biofach and Vivaness Congress was particularly well received. The choice of topics and speakers were praised. 95 respectively 98 per cent were satisfied with it.

We heard from many participants that they had a particularly strong perception of the 2021 Congress. Certainly one reason for this: The proximity between "exhibition halls" and "congress centre" is naturally greater in the digital space than on site. It's not so easy to "switch in" to a congress appointment when you're out and about in the halls. Another plus point: the longterm availability of the congress on the internet and the overall reach as well as the numerous events of the exhibitors - together with the congress a total of 775 events.

But the participants were also generally pleased with the E-Special. In each case, 70 per cent of the participants were able to achieve their goals and drew a positive balance.

Many participants had the impression that only a few retailers participated in the E-Special. Can you give a figure for how many actually took part?

Danila Brunner: We don't have all the evaluations available yet, but the first data show that the retail sector was comparatively well represented: Proportionally to the total number of participants and composition, the retail sector was comparably strongly represented at the E-Special.

How many retailers were present at the 2020 face-to-face fair and what could be the reason that fewer of them might have been enthusiastic about the digital format?

Petra Wolf: In general, you cannot compare an on-site event and a digital platform like Biofach and Vivaness E-Special, and so neither can these data. The reasons why potential participants get excited about a digital format or do not opt for it are certainly manifold.

We were able to record a good number of participants with the E-Special, also compared to other digital events in the trade fair industry. And an impressively high number of companies that even participated with their own events. But especially in a sector like organic food and natural cosmetics, it is of course particularly important for representatives from the trade to experience, see and taste the product live. And that makes the hurdle for digital participation higher in our case.

The next Biofach and Vivaness are to be held again in the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre. There will still be digital trade fair content, you have held out the prospect. What could this look like and what are the advantages of digital trade fair content?

Petra Wolf: On the basis of our evaluations and in particular the numerous customer and participant feedbacks, we look very closely at what has worked particularly well and with which formats we can offer our customers demand-oriented added value through digital supplements to the on-site trade fair experience. This could be, for example, the digital reproduction of parts of the congress. Live streams of certain events, for example, are very important to customers. And here we see great potential to significantly increase the reach with this content in the future and to make the Congress accessible to more people around the globe.

In future, for us as trade fair organisers, it will be about the best possible combination of on-site, i.e. at the exhibition centre, and online, i.e. in digital format. And what the best possible means will be very different and individual for each sector. For the organic and natural cosmetics community, we want to put together the best possible offer for 2022. We will certainly be able to say more about this in early summer.

Are there also disadvantages of digital formats?

Petra Wolf: Yes, of course, they are obvious for Biofach and Vivaness, for example. You cannot digitally implement the haptic experience of seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling food and cosmetic products. You can only get closer. For example, many of our exhibitors - and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them again - have done this by sending their customers products in advance for guided and digital tastings. And the annual organic industry get-together Biofach and Vivaness thrives very much on personal encounters. As we all know after a year of the pandemic and countless video conferences, this can never be fully translated into the digital world either.

Do you have ideas on how to motivate retailers to use the digital trade show content?

Danila Brunner: We have already developed some ideas for Biofach and Vivaness 2021 to get the various target groups excited about the E-Special. Among other things, together with our exhibitors, with the partners, associations and media partners. We focused on the retail trade digitally, addressed them through the various channels, but also tailored the content of the event so that it was relevant to the retailer. This includes, for example, specific thematic sessions at the congress, but also the range of products around innovations and trends. We will consistently continue along this path for 2022.

At this year's E-Special, some participants complained about technical problems. Do you think you will have a better grip on technology in 2022?

Danila Brunner: Absolutely! Because digital platforms are continuously evolving - also along the needs of the corresponding community. And a corresponding digital format for Biofach and Vivaness as a supplement to the on-site event benefits not only from what we learned for this year's E-Special, but also from the fact that we take away new learnings from every other Nürnberg Messe event and continuously optimize the digital platforms.

Particularly when digital and analog elements are to be combined, some participants would like a longer lead time before the start of the trade show. There was talk of six months' preparation time, for example. Can you meet this request for 2022?

Petra Wolf: The lead time for the Biofach and Vivaness 2021 E-Special was - also for us - with the decision at the end of October to focus on a purely digital format, of course a bit short. Even though we had already been thinking about variants and alternatives to the on-site trade fair for some time, since around early summer 2020, and had discussed this with the industry, it was then in fact only 3.5 months. For 2022, we want to have clarity about the format earlier, to give our customers more planning security and thus also more lead time.

Some participants have told us that they are eagerly awaiting figures such as the number of visitors to the digital "booth". When can they expect the evaluation?

Danila Brunner: We still have to ask for a little patience here, because we actually do not have this data for the individual exhibitor profiles yet. But we will soon publish a review of the Biofach and Vivaness E-Special on the website of the trade fair duo and the respective exhibitors will of course also receive the corresponding evaluations as soon as possible.


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