IFA 2017: Open for Business

Industry leaders paint a highly positive picture of the sector as the gates open for this year’s show

IFA remains a significant global marketplace, with orders of over €4.5bn made here last year, and a similar figure projected for this year’s event. This year’s opening press conference, in the new “IFA NEXT” zone highlighted the reasons behind the outstanding success of the event.

Journalist and television personality Melinda Crane introduced the IFA Opening Press conference on Wednesday with some impressive statistics: 145,000 professionals from 129 countries; and over 1,800 exhibitors across 159,000 sq m of exhibition space.

Describing IFA as “a beacon for ground breaking discoveries”, Crane announced the creation of the Innovation Hub, the area in Hall 26b that brings together IFA+ Summit, the IFA keynotes and cutting-edge exhibitors under the IFA NEXT brand.

IFA IS ALL ABOUT ACCELERATING GROWTH AND INNOVATION, AND THAT’S WHY IFA HAS BECOME MORE AND MORE ATTRACTIVE FOR TRADE VISITORS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Kamp had some encouraging statistics. Global sales of home electronic goods are 4% up on last year; there is year-on-year growth in most parts of the world, the highest being central & eastern Europe at 11% and Latin America at 10%; sales of UHD TV sets have reached 75 million units, up 40% on last year; and OLED TV sets have reached 1.2 million, a 122% increase on 2016. TV screens are getting bigger: there are currently 50.1 million TV sets between 50 and 59” in use globally; that figure is estimated to rise by 26% to 67.5 million by 2020.

HOME APPLIANCES “AT HOME” AT IFA FOR TEN YEARS

Mr Kamp went on to underline the importance of the inclusion of home appliances at IFA: an initiative dating back ten years now: “We are delighted that Home Appliances@IFA is taking place for the 10th time. Among other things it is proof that the Consumer Electronics and Home Appliances segments are a winning combination and that they stand for IFA’s continuing role as the ideal platform for successful business. No
other trade show meets the requirements of the industry, retailers, consumers and media in such a comprehensive way. This is reflected in the positive boost it gives the market and the constant increase in order volume, which at the last event exceeded 4.5 billion euros at the beginning of the peak annual sales period before Christmas.”

The smart home is now a reality and many stands at IFA this year are demonstrating that fact, remarked TV presenter Crane before introducing the next speaker, Reinhard Zinkann, Member of the Board of ZVEI and president of CECED, adding, “Back in 2008, when appliances were introduced here at IFA, the idea of the smart home felt to me like something you would see on The Jetsons TV show.”

When the idea of including home appliances in the show was first mooted back in 2004, there were reportedly howls of protest, with one industry representative exclaiming: “Washing machines and fridges together with TV sets? That will never work!” But of course, it did, as explained: the first IFA to include home appliances back in 2008 welcomed 70 exhibitors in four halls with a total of 20,000 sq m of exhibition space.

By IFA 2016 that figure more than doubled to 41,000 sq m. “In 2008 visitors experienced something totally new here – the smell of coffee and baking. IFA had turned into a fascinating world of the senses.”

Key trends in 2008 included energy and efficiency, Dr Zinkann said. “And back then there was room for improvement.” But there have been great leaps forward in energy an efficiency of all products in just those 10 years and today other trends dominate – connectivity for example. “Today all major appliances are covered” where connectivity is concerned, and small appliances are now moving into the connected space.

Another dominant trend today is convenience and lifestyle. “Our intention is to make everyone feel like a chef de cuisine,” Dr Zinkann said. “The aim is to make life easier for everyone, more pleasant, more enjoyable.”

Dr Zinkann concluded that there is “room for optimism” in the industry. Sales in North America and Asia Pacific are showing growth; Europe’s is a “bright picture”, with Brexit perhaps stalling growth in some areas for the UK; small appliances are showing “steadfast growth”; cordless vacuum cleaners and other robot devices are showing double- digit growth in many markets.

Ten years after IFA welcomed home appliances, Dr Zinkann said: “I’m glad to be here; the industry is glad to be here; the merger, the wedding, was an exciting one.”

MESSE BERLIN CEO UPBEAT AT CONFERENCE

Dr Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin – organisers of the show, was the next to take the stage, asserting, “The next week will be super, super packed, with technology, ideas, thoughts from the movers and shakers of this industry.” Dr Göke announced a trade show first: “The ‘Funkturm’ area of IFA (eds: the main showground around the radio tower in western Berlin) is, for the first time, “brands only”: “No other show in our industry has ever accomplished that”, said Dr Göke. “We have Dell, Amazon, and Freenet, as new exhibitors, and a special area for fitness and activity that has doubled in size.”

Many recognise the IFA motto: “IFA – Partner of the Future since 1924”. Dr Göke explained the three “pillars” of this concept:

  • IFA (The trade show itself) presents products ready to market for end of year business: “IFA focusses on what is new now: what you see here is what will hit the shelves this Christmas”.
  • The second pillar is IFA NEXT: “It is new. You haven’t seen it before… you will see it for the first time this year at this show. It shows you what is going to happen in two to five years. IFA NEXT puts innovation right at the heart of our show. This
    is a unique opportunity to see the latest innovations all in one space. There will be expert speakers and panel discussions so you can really get your hands on the future in this new format called IFA NEXT. The ‘engine’ to this is the more than 120 start-ups from 20 countries. And we have teamed-up with three major smart home associations – from the UK, from France, and of course, from Germany. Clustered around this inner circle are big brands like IBM and Amazon Alexa.”
  • Finally – the IFA+ Summit: “Here we are looking ahead to the future – ten years out from now – on how technology will change our lives in ten plus years. IFA+ Summit is bigger and more international than ever.” Dr Göke outlined the extraordinarily rich list of keynoters, conference speakers and other contributors to what is set to be a great edition of IFA.
    Echoing the sentiments of the Messe Berlin CEO, Jens Heithecker, IFA Executive Director stated, “IFA is all about accelerating growth and innovation, and that’s why IFA has become more and more attractive for trade visitors from around the world. IFA is now the most important trade show for the Consumer and Home Electronics industry, with the largest number of trade visitors and highest international attendance.”
    Dr Göke concluded, “Innovation is in IFA’s DNA. For nearly 100 years, innovation has been at the heart of this trade show, which has grown all the time. No other event brings together so many retailers, suppliers, trade visitors and members of the media at such an ideal time of year”.