Friday, 6 May 2011

Turning techie at IFA Conference

K&B News editorial assistant and fashionista Britta o’Boyle is now a confirmed gadget geek

Shoes and bags; you’ve always had my full, undivided attention. But until I joined the kbb industry, gadgets had to work that  little bit harder. After my recent visit to the consumer electronics show IFA global press conference, held this year in Alicante, I'm now a complete techie convert. Power briefings from Siemens, Bosch, Samsung and panels from GfK on the first day, gave way to a conference on the second day and I now know IFA 2011 isn’t an exhibition I want to miss. And with good reason, as GfK figures announced the white goods market is increasing again after reports of an 8% growth in 2010.

Director of Messe Berlin, Christian Goke reported IFA that the 2011exhibition is already completely booked. So it seems the only limit to this show is space. The exhibition attracted 125,000 visitors, 29,000 of which were international in 2010, and the numbers are expected to grow again this year. So much so that two new halls are being built for this year’s show, with direct links to the existing exhibition halls. As if it wasn’t big enough already, there will be an extra 15,000 sqm to contend with, as well as plans to provide home appliances with an extra 10,000 sqm by 2014!

The IFA conference also took a turn to look at challenges for retailers. The internet, which I would suggest is becoming slightly like marmite where you either love it or hate it, was declared one of the main challenges. It was stated that there were 1.97 billion internet users in the world and Europe represented 14% of consumer electronic goods internet sales. There was also said to be a 13.6% increase in internet sales in 2010 and 9.1% of internet sales were white goods.

However with all that said, reference was made to the fact that Europe is the world’s largest market for consumer electronics and home appliance sales, representing 29%. And this year is said to be the year of the tablet PC. So, could it be possible that retailers will justify investing in an iPad (or equivalent) for their showrooms as a new gadget to design kitchens and bathrooms on? And will consumers start to use tablets not just as detergent, but as devices to control their washing machine start time or oven temperature? Why not take a trip to IFA in Berlin from September 2-7 to find out? I know I will...!

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