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EFTTEX – CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS

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EFTTA has published its annual report, with this year’s facts and figures about EFTTEX in Budapest. Being a dyed-in-the-wool marketing man, Chris Leibbrandt couldn’t help comparing them with the 2016 show in Amsterdam. Here’s what he found.

Walking up to the conference centre buildings was perhaps a little disappointing. That feeling was exacerbated by the terrible taxi service and the sometimes ineffective management of that service. The show ground and its conference centre looked in need of a face-lift.

Luckily, this doesn’t reflect the majority of the city, which is blessed with some awe-inspiring architecture. A caveat to that statement is that the best buildings are at least 100 years older than the show ground. It’s possibly something the profession of architects could one day look at; nostalgia rules for most people who contemplate buildings. Rarely are new buildings as well loved as the massive egos that created them think they should be. That aside, once I got into the show, what was awaiting me?

It looked busy enough and this was confirmed when you looked at the sales of the stands, a healthy increase in numbers of six per cent, from 208 up to 222. The square metres of floor space also increased from 6,591 to 6,851, up some four per cent. These figures represent more stands sold but a smaller average floor space for each exhibitor. The mix of large and small was therefore more noticeable, with not only the usual collection of huge players in evidence but also more smaller stands.

While the stands and floor space sales were fairly steady, there was a wildly anomalous increase in the number of countries that exhibited, from 37 to 71, an increase of 91 per cent! Whatever the reason, it is difficult not to draw the conclusion that EFTTEX has an increasing global relevance. This was an eyebrow-lifter for me because I thought the logistics of getting to Budapest would be one of the factors that would put people off; that might of course just be about getting there from the UK.

To put it into perspective, I used a low-cost airline to get there and the return fare was as expensive as a Virgin Atlantic Airlines’ return to Orlando to get to ICAST! That certainly didn’t make sense. So, maybe it was just a problem getting there from the UK. One thing’s for sure, it didn’t put the rest of the world off from attending.

Despite Budapest’s obvious architectural attractions, its visitor numbers were down by three per cent, from 2,950 in 2016 to 2,880. The most obvious reason was the aforementioned logistics issue.

It is simply more difficult to get to than Amsterdam, a perennial, or in the case of EFTTEX, biennial issue. If it wasn’t the transport, was this just a case of apathy, a slowdown in the trade, a lack of relevance in the show, or some other simple explanation?

Around 45 per cent of the 651 who answered a poll said it was very important to their business, so still a relevant show for the trade. In terms of the breakdown of visitors, manufacturers increased slightly from 11 per cent to 14, as did visiting retailers from 34 per cent to 37, with agents and sales people increasing from two per cent to three.

The biggest change was a drop in wholesalers from 53 per cent to 46. Just why is that?

I am a great believer in a philosophical principle for problem solving called Ockham’s razor, or more rarely, the Law of Parsimony. It’s attributed to a Franciscan friar, scholar, theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham (c1287-1347), who stated that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. In other words, if there are two explanations, the simplest one is usually better. The simplest in this case would be they simply couldn’t be bothered.

That would be little harsh. So, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I suspect it’s possibly the reducing influence, or even relevance, of wholesalers due to a corresponding increase in commerce and webshops. Frankly, without marketing research this is merely an assumption, but one that works for me.

Looking at the country breakdowns, there are very few surprises. Top of the list visiting in Amsterdam is the Netherlands, and it’s no surprise that topping the 2017 visiting list is Hungary. In the top 10 it’s a surprise not to see the UK, but the flight issue is probably the cause of that. Making an appearance, and this is also geographical I suspect, are the Ukraine, Slovakia and Serbia, with the United Kingdom, Russia and Finland dropping out of the top 10 to make way for the newcomers.

The manufacturing countries swapped Italy and France for Hungary and the Ukraine, the remainder in the top five being the same, China, Japan and the UK.

Perhaps the one category that includes some interesting eyebrow raisers is agents, with China being the only constant. In 2016 the usual suspects of neighbouring France, Germany and Italy were complemented by of all countries Iran. All of these failed to make the 2017 cut, being replaced by the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and South Korea.

In conclusion, while there were a lot of neighbours visiting, proving that geography is certainly a key driver in attendance, some of the anomalous entries were also of interest. The reduction in wholesalers is interesting, and one wonders if this is the beginning of a trend or a glitch. As I have already said, without adequate research it is impossible to accurately attribute the change to any one thing.

The highlight for me, however, was the near miraculous increase in the number of countries represented, once again proving that you simply can’t predict some things, and in many ways, isn’t that a good thing? Once again I am forced into concluding, it’s a funny old world.

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Author: tackletradeworld

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