IFA: The Industry Viewpoint

Exclusive Interview with Hans Joachim Kamp, chairman of the gfu supervisory board

IFA is run every year by Germany’s industry association – gfu – hand-in-hand with Messe Berlin. We asked Hans Joachim Kamp, chairman of the organisation’s supervisory board, how he felt this year’s show went.

It has been more international than ever. A number of years ago, it was a German or a European trade show. Now, it is a good thing that the show has become totally international, as industry players spend millions in an attempt to get more orders and to be in contact with their international dealers, and this has been successful. Over 60% of the trade visitors this year were international, and that’s great.

What is the innovation of the year?

There’s not one single innovation; but there are more innovations than ever. In the consumer electronics sector, you now have the fight for picture quality between LED (eds: TFT) and OLED. I think it’s fascinating, and the feedback from the industry and the consumers is positive. Consequently, after several years of being in the doldrums, the TV market is picking up again. Other innovations are taking place in wearables, in speech recognition and voice control. These are new themes that will generate more turnover in the next months and years, so I am not only optimistic with what we have seen here, but also for the future of the entire market. If you look at the figures from the major manufacturers, several years ago they were in trouble. Since then, there have been cost-cutting measures, turnover has increased, freeing money for R&D. This will drive even more innovation, and innovation is a driver for turnover and positive market development.

What are the key advantages of IFA for the industry?

IFA not only takes place in the right city – at the right time, based on seasonal patterns, but more importantly, IFA is an order fair, and we estimate that this year will have seen a new record, at €4.7bn in orders taken at the show. If you’re not present here, you will see it in your books at the end of the year. The show is a fantastic cooperation between gfu on the one hand and the teams of Dr Christian Göke and Jens Heithecker on the other.

What are the trends in terms of the kind of people that come to the show on the retail side?

More and more big customers are bringing larger numbers of sales people to the show to see what they’ll be selling in the coming months. It’s a must for them to be here in addition to the key account managers. On all sides, there are advantages as a large number of meetings can be organised, which reduces travel costs in comparison to visiting everyone separately. IFA is the place where people finalise deals in preparation for the coming weeks and months, and more than 30% of turnover is done in the last three months.


Messe Berlin two years ago created a new show in China. How important will this be as a platform for European manufacturers?

I think the decision of Messe Berlin several years ago to into China with the CE China show was an absolutely excellent concept. It takes a bit of time, because if we look at the Chinese market, the most important players of the world tend to have very small market shares in that territory compared to everywhere else. So, building a platform the key manufacturers from around the world who want to increase their footprint in the Chinese market; for the Chinese dealers to get in contact with these international brands as we do it here at the IFA is a fantastic concept, even if it may take a little time.

Photo: Hans Joachim Kamp – Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH