For a few months I have received e-mailings announcing that a new tradefair for the premium and gift industry was launched in Amsterdam, Holland: the Pro8. I’m quite astonished: why would distributors visit this fair rather than PSI or would they visit both fairs ? What is so new and innovative that will make the fair a success.
Below is an interview with John Swaab from PRO8, my questions are quite agressive, but it’s true that I’m really not convinced (yet) that this fair has it’s place in the actual market.
Henk : John, thanks for accepting this interview, Please explain in a few words who you are, your position at PRO8 and your own background in the industry.
John : My name is John-M. Swaab, Director and Share holder of Het Portaal Uitgevers. Pro Exhibitons & Publishers is a collaboration consisting of Het Portaal Uitgevers BV and WA Verlag GMbH. Het Portaal has evolved into a multimedia platform carrying titles such as PromZ Magazine, PromZ Vak, the internet portal Promz.nl and the trade fairs PromZ Event and RelatieZ. We are by far the market leader in Holland and Belgium.
Henk : The promotional product market has been changing a lot for a few years : distributors source directly from Asia, suppliers sell directly to end-users and advertising agencies. Your website, www.pro-8.eu is decorated with images of containers, I would expect Asian exhibitors to be accepted at pro8 just like at the pro-dimex but they’re not. also end-user and agency visitors are not welcome. Do you really think that in the next 5 years this traditional exclusive importer to distributor relation has a future ?
John : Yes, still I think it will have a future. Philips will also not sell their products directly to the consumer. But I think that distributors have to be more creative in the future and the product, legal knowledge has to be excellent, so the distributor has to be an added value for their customer. My opinion of the distributors who only their usp Price is that they will loose in the end..
Henk : What makes PRO8 so different from PSI ? Same exhibitor policy, , same visitors policy. I understand that visiting PRO8 will be cheaper for the distributor, but isn’t the high member and entrance fee of PSI show a guaranty of quality for the exhibitor ?
John : There are 29.000 distributors in Europe and among them about 4000 are psi members. Most of them are German. I will not suggest that all 29000 distributors are all equally interesting. But I know that there are many new companies who are doing very well and they are not PSI Member. Did you know that only about 35 to 40 percent of the clients of Pf concept and MOB are PSI members There are many companies who do not see the added value of the PSI anymore. When PSI started with membership build, it was a very good system: you could as distributor of Sweden, call PSI and ask who delivered balloons for example, and you got 3 or 4 suppliers who where member of the PSI the same day, by fax back to you. In the 1980’s it was very useful, but now with internet you just go on Google and type ‘balloons’ and you will get more supplier names at no cost to you. But you pay about 800 euro’s for visiting psi fair in Dusseldorf, and that’s quite a price. And do not forget that the PSI members are very welcome to come to Pro 8
I believe that the idea of adding informative seminars is very good, I’ve seen this in the US for many years and indeed the interest is high. But how will you organise these seminars efficiently in the EU language jungle ? your main target, non PSI member distributors, don’t speak english that well (one of the reasons why South European distributors do not come to PSI).)
John : First of all, I think that PSI Dusseldorf doesn’t have so many visitors from South Europe anymore and that is because they do have satellite fairs in Barcelona and Paris and a few more. But you are right that there is a language problem, but it is changing very rapidly, English is becoming much wider. But we will use a translator to Spanish and French in some of the seminars
Henk : I believe PSI has never really been able to attract the South European and UK visitors to Düsseldorf, do you think PRO8 will bring them to Holland ?
John : Yes, I think so. First of all, we have an all-out cooperation between publishers in different countries to get in contact with distributors. For PSI Dusseldorf it is much more difficult, they can only advertise for the distributors who are member. And last but not least, Amsterdam is much more fun of a city than Dusseldorf, is it not?
Henk : PSI members will continue to visit PSI, and I’m not sure they’ll go to Amsterdam three weeks later as the mass of exhibitors may be the same as at PSI. Promota in England is mid February, UK distributors may prefer to go there rather than to Amsterdam. So your potential visitors are mainly non members of trade organisations, why will they come to PRO8 ? Only because of the lower cost ?
John : I think the first year they defiantly will come to Pro8, if only out of curiosity. But therefore the seminars are such an important tool to trigger the visitors. You always hear after an exhibition “I did not see one new product“. Now it will be “I attended some very interesting seminars and the exhibition looked very nice, and I met actually some totally new exhibitors who never have attended the PSI show”. Note: Pro exhibitions & publishers will invest 100.000 Euros, starting June 1st, for research of the industry. This surveys will be done by Interview NSS, one of the 10 best market research agencies in Europe
Note: Pro exhibitions & publishers will start from 1 June invest €.100.000 for research for more knowledge of the branch, this surveys will be done by Interview NSS, one of the 10 best market research agencies in Europe.
Henk : Thanks for the interview John, more information is available on the PRO8 website : www.pro-8.eu