Magazine article Marketing

Hitting the Target at Lifestyle Events

Magazine article Marketing

Hitting the Target at Lifestyle Events

Article excerpt

The growing range of lifestyle exhibitions are perfect for promoting brands to a captive and attentive audience.

Yet another must-have gadget burst on to the market this month with the arrival of BT's Onephone, the cordless phone that works as a mobile outside the home. Many of the first people to use it will be among the 75,000 visitors at the Tomorrow's World Live exhibition, sponsored by the DTI for the first time and held at London's Earls Court from June 30.

"Bringing the mountain to Mohammed," is how John O'Boyle, the Onephone project leader, describes the strategy of using a high-profile consumer event for a major launch. Conventional advertising and PR are also much in evidence, but O'Boyle believes that field and event marketing are essential to stimulate a Clearly defined audience - in this case affluent early adopters.

Big exhibitions, such as the Ideal Home and Motorshow, attract hundreds of thousands of visitors. Now they have been joined by lifestyle events targeting niche markets.

The Clothes Show Live and the Cosmo Show attract growing numbers of young women, while new exhibitions flourish as never before - targeting men, teenagers and children, or based on the themes of gardening, sports, even sex and chocolate. These events offer opportunities for brand owners to get close to their consumers on a scale that is hard to achieve through any other medium.

The Cosmo Show at Earls Court received 55,000 visitors during the May bank holiday, up 10% on last year, and was a natural arena for cosmetic companies bringing new ideas to market. Olay Colour (formerly Oil of Ulay) unveiled its new identity together with a number of new lip and nail products, while Salon System unveiled a make-up range. Both offered makeovers and the stands were booked solid.

Benefits of shows

An exhibition is often a key part of a launch that may also include advertising, in-store sampling and other targeted media."We can give a captive audience of some 200,000, which is a fantastic opportunity," says Clothes Show Live director Amanda Stainer. "TV advertising reaches more people, but only for a few seconds, whereas at a show, people can see the product in action, test it and buy it."

Exhibitions are also a good launch pad for new companies with big ideas but small ad budgets. Cosmo Show visitors expressed great interest in Paxelle, a concept in packaging that disguises sanpro products as lipstick or perfume containers.

"The response was amazing and gave us a quick, cost-effective idea of what to expect," says managing director Carole MacKay. A prime location next to the main stage ensured that the stand was well visited; MacKay estimates that her four-person team talked to 10,000 visitors.

Exhibitions are ideal for small companies marketing new gadgets, One of many promising innovations featured at Tomorrow's World Live last year was Car Cosy, a fibreglass shell that works like an instant garage, rising and lowering on hydraulic stilts. Managing director Stan Millward says the stand generated worldwide media coverage and enough orders to get the business going.

The women's shows also attract a share of gadgets. Mobile phone firms have a ubiquitous presence; Vodafone had a stand next to the catwalk at last year's Clothes Show Live to launch its pre-pay service and a range of branded phones for younger women, an under-represented market.

Men's lifestyle, a major focus for marketers following the surge of magazines such as FHM and Loaded, is taking longer to find its feet in the exhibitions world. Neither of last year's main shows,Toys for the Boys and GQ/GQ Active, is being repeated, suggesting that the market is not as firm as the hype would suggest.

However, there are still plenty of companies willing to have a go. A new show, M99, will be held in different locations between October and April, while Centre Exhibitions has bought the Toys for the Boys concept from Crucial Events and is to stage it early next year under a new name. …

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