Novelty Wins Audiences

By Cobb, Robin | Marketing, January 13, 1994 | Go to article overview

Novelty Wins Audiences


Cobb, Robin, Marketing


Exhibition organisers use spectacle and surprise to woo jaded consumers back through the doors.

The hanging gardens of Earl's Court will be the next wonder of the exhibition world. This is the intention of DMG Angex, organiser of the Daily Mail Ideal Home Plus exhibition, in its continuing search for spectacular features to draw the crowds.

"We are cascading the gardens off the balcony in tiers," says Ivan Allen, Angex divisional managing director. "It is to put the 'Wow!' factor into the show." His inspiration came during a visit to the US. "I was impressed by what some of my American colleagues were doing in the use of gardens and water to create atmosphere," Allen remarks.

This exemplifies how consumer shows are looking beyond the attractions of the exhibitors' stands to find ways of exciting public interest. By these means, they plan to reverse a generally downward spiral in attendances and spending on exhibitions.

The latest annual survey on expenditure by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers shows spending dropped from |pounds~539m in 1991 to |pounds~519m in 1992. This was the third consecutive year of reduced spending. Against this, 82% of ISBA members responding to the survey said they found exhibitions a cost-effective promotional medium. Consumer events appear to be swimming against the cut-backs.

The two biggest venues have both experienced an upsurge in consumer shows. National Exhibition Centre marketing manager John Cole observes: "We are struck by the activity level -- more than a third of our calendar is now composed of public shows."

In addition to high-profile events such as the International Motor Show, BBC Clothes Show Live and Cruft's, he notes "a mass of specialised public shows".

Olympia Earl's Court marketing services manager Liz Wakefield records a 30% increase in consumer events between 1992 and 1993, with even more scheduled for this year. "Computers and computer games are booming markets," she observes. On its last outing, the International Motor Show increased a previously falling attendance by 45%, to 657,000. Organiser Tony Ball attributes this to a range of special features and, in conjunction with Angex, staging an Ideal Home show simultaneously at the NEC. …

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