Is the PSI show in Düsseldorf still THE meeting point for European distributors, importers and producers of promotional products. Did the PSI show loose it’s initial power ?
Interview with the director of the PSI, Sabine Geldermann. The PSI in Düsseldorf is a “members only” trade show for promotional products ?
January 2007 will be the 45th edition of this successful show which can be qualified as the biggest pan European trade show in the industry.
Henk : Sabine, thanks for accepting this interview. I have been exhibiting for 15 years; it’s without any doubt an excellent trade fair. Please introduce shortly yourself and the PSI to our readers.
Sabine : Henk, Thank you first of all for giving me the opportunity to present PSI, its actual status as well as the traditional role that the institute has been involved in now for more than 45 years.
When considering its development, the PSI (Promotional Product Service Institute) is both a company and a network. In 1960, the founder of PSI, Walter Jung, had the idea of creating a functioning industry for promotional products out of a mosaic. Being a member in PSI should provide everyone the competitive advantage « For Members Only « was and is the motto.
The first tool on the path to a promotional products industry was a joint fair, the PSI. Suddenly manufacturers and importers focused their attention on the forming branch of the advertising industry. Wholesalers of promotional products and consultants sprang up everywhere. In the 70s and 80s, the industry experienced an exemplary boom. Consolidation and specialization were to follow.
Since its foundation PSI has persistently followed the idea of a network philosophy. Today, fairs and services from Paris to Düsseldorf and even to Warsaw link more than 6,000 promotional product companies throughout Europe and the world. At the beginning of each year, PSI Düsseldorf is both the trendsetter and the barometer of opinion.
I am personally involved in PSI since 1991 and for sure I do have a certain passion for the industry, as it is very creative, innovative and challenging. In my position as Director PSI I am responsible together with my team of 23 colleagues for maintaining the quality of the brand and the relevant services we provide for our customers on a national and international basis. Needless to say that we are focusing continuously on providing better performances of our product portfolio and on meeting our customers needs.
Last but not least PSI does support as well trade associations nationally and internationally and I am personally involved in GWW, the national federation of the promotional product industry and existing political activities which we take into consideration for enabling suppliers and distributors of the German industry to work on a solid and safe basis for their business.
Henk : My personal feeling is that the PSI trade show has lost some of it’s initial power in the industry. Don’t be upset! The problem is not, for sure, the organisation of the fair which is really perfect. But when I first started exhibiting at the PSI visitors came to see the new promotional products for the upcoming year ? Don’t you think that now Internet allows manufacturers to introduce their novelties at any time of the year. I feel the show has become more the place to meet and discuss rather than to discover new products.
Sabine : I can share some of your thought regarding the quick product cycle as well as the internet opportunities that our industry faces. For sure product novelties seem to be more and more on demand but on the other hand exhibitors still reply to that requirement. PSI is still considered to be the innovation platform at the beginning of every new calendar year. Following the visitor surveys more than the majority of our international clientele still use this fair to get introduced to the novelties. However, fact is that novelties get extremely quickly copied and by consequence plagiarism can be observed on global basis, developments that do have a very destroying and negative influence on the power of the industry and the development of new products.
Henk : At the PSI show far east producers are not allowed to exhibit. This was logical a few years ago as it protected iindeed larger and medium importers. But many distributors are now buying directly from Asia, I see more and more of them at the Hong Kong fair each year. The volume of promotional products that distributors source from Asia is increasing each year.
Trade fairs like pro-dimex and the Asia show in London try to catch this market. What is your opinion on this?
Sabine : We continuously observe the European and global market changes and try to adapt our concept for meeting the requirements of customer needs. However, looking at experiences and customer’s feedback as well as surveys related to the subject of distribution being in move PSI – spoken for the actual situation – still will focus on its unique selling proposition and traditional concept. For sure the world and global markets and product sources can be achieved today by everybody but the European market structure and its local businesses still need a structured process and distribution , where the supplier or importer serves the local distributor, as long as he will not be able to handle all logistics and financing processes himself. The benchmark data and the actual results regarding the upcoming PSI Show underline and confirm in a very positive and convincing way that we seem to be on the right path. Asian influence is increasing, no doubt, but Europe still has it very unique and local business needs that have to be taken into account.
Henk : PSI Paris and PSI Warsaw are successful , will you try to get into other local European markets ?
Sabine : With the three branded PSI trade fairs in Düsseldorf, Paris and Warsaw our network has been indeed successfully implemented. Exporeclam Madrid is another very successful trade fair in our Reed Portfolio in Southern Europe and given that fact we do have a very intensive, high quality network for the European market. We are continuously and definitely monitoring business opportunities on an international basis and often get involved with interesting concepts for potential markets. This is already due to the fact that Reed Exhibitions does have such an impressive global approach and has a network of 460 trade fairs in 38 countries covering 52 different industries.
Henk : Talking about PSI, distributors often say “ membership is expensive”. As an exhibitor I think it’s an excellent way to select serious visitors. But maybe you can give some arguments for the visitor. Please also specify the current membership fee..
Sabine : What is expensive? If you identify existing benchmarks and services in our industry as well as service providers or associations, you come very quickly to the point that you have to ask for values and beneficial services customers will pay for. Existing PSI membership categories Business and Premium include a monthly magazine, member directories, Product research and catalogue entries, valuable online information and search by our newest online solution “PSI Product Finder”, benefits due to reciprocal agreements that we do have with the most important national and international trade fairs as well as political activities and PR for the promotional product industry. Distributors pay a yearly fee of € 430 (monthly of € 35, 83), the yearly fee for suppliers amounts up to € 600. (monthly supplier fee of € 50). If for example a supplier will receive only once per year! via our product research department only one single order, he will have most probably refinanced for many times his membership fee, which very often seems not to be realised. Membership fees in various trade associations vary often between € 700 up to € 1.000, and provided services not always seem to be very competitive. – a feeling that by the way customers share as well. We are convinced that PSI delivers high quality services and a very valuable network which is actually as well reflected in the member structure and a very high retention rate for the membership and trade fair since many years.
Henk : Thanks a lot for your time Sabine
Sabine : Thanks to you as well Henk!
The PSI website : http://www.psionline.de