With the return of Spielwarenmesse after the Covid crisis, and more than four-fifths of the exhibition space taken and new areas and elements added, the trade show is in rude health for next year’s event and things are shaping up nicely for February 2023. TnP got the lowdown from Florian Hess about the Nuremberg event, what’s been added and how it’s progressing…
How are things going with the show?
Florian Hess: The countdown has started. Our team is really happy to be putting on the leading event for the international toy industry again after a two-year break, and to be welcoming so many representatives of the sector to Nuremberg. We will be providing a unique and efficient meeting point for industry and retail. As the world’s leading trade fair, the Spielwarenmesse can offer forward-looking ideas for everyone who attends – whether they are there to present their product innovations or to make use of a networking platform.
How has the take-up been from exhibitors?
FH: Compared with the 2020 Spielwarenmesse, more than 80% of the exhibition space has already been booked, which is a very good start for us following the pandemic. Exhibitor interest remains undimmed, as we have discovered through personal conversations in recent months. On our Dialogue Tour we visited more than 20 countries for discussions with exhibitors, visitors, media representatives and promoters. Demand for information about the Spielwarenmesse was huge, as we discovered in particular from the extended question-and-answer sessions. After such a long time, everyone is looking forward to making contacts in person and meeting up with long-established trading partners again.
How is the exhibition area shaping up and what new elements are there going to be on the floor?
FH: From well-known brands through to local players and newcomers, with 13 products groups extending across 18 halls, a vast range is assured. To a great extent, we have retained the familiar structure. In ‘Services for retailers and producers’ we have added a new product group where providers of various services for retail and industry are to be found. At the end of the day on the Thursday of the fair, all participants are invited to RedNight – the big exhibitor party night in the exhibition halls. And by integrating the established Game Inventors Convention on the Friday we are strengthening our commitment to the field of toys. A further highlight is the Model Railway and Model Construction Open Day. On February 4 and 5 the product group will be opening up to consumers in Hall 7A. This fulfills a long-held wish of exhibitors in this sector of the market.
What favourites are returning to the show in 2023?
FH: Sustainability and climate protection are more than just a trend. Consciousness of these issues is becoming embedded ever more firmly in consumers’ minds. For that reason, we are continuing with ‘Toys go Green’ in a Special Area of that name and are presenting relevant products and additional information in Hall 2. The Tech2Play Special in Hall 4A will once again have the latest new products from the fields of Robot Toys, RC Toys, Virtual Play and Electronic Learning on show for retailers and buyers. Hall 3A is again devoted entirely to ‘Knowledge and Trends’. Every day in the Toy Business Forum, top-level experts will be giving presentations on topical industry and retail subjects such as digitalisation, sustainability, trends in toys, diversity and marketing.
And in addition, the LicenseTalks taking place here in the mornings from Wednesday to Saturday will offer valuable insights into the topic of licensing, with examples of best practice and tips for newcomers. Next door, the nominees and winners of the ToyAward will be presenting themselves. This is the prize with which we recognise outstanding product innovations in six different categories.
“Demand for information about the Spielwarenmesse was huge, as we discovered from the extended question-and-answer sessions”
And what elements are you introducing?
FH: Still in Hall 3A, there will also be several innovations. The New Product Gallery will provide retailers and buyers with creative ideas for range selection. For anyone seeking out innovative product ideas from young German and international companies, the StartupArea is the place to be. And in addition, the redesigned World of Experience brings the coming year’s ToyTrends to life: in ‘Discover!’ everything is about the discovery of unfamiliar worlds, while in ‘Brands for Fans’, the focus is on licences from current films and series as well as retro-licences. The ‘MetaToys’ trend covers not only products that are brought to life using VR or AR technology, but also toys as NFTs. This year, the Insights-X Area celebrates its premiere in Hall 4, as a Special presenting products from the stationery sector under the motto ‘Stationery meets toys’.
How important is it to add new ideas and innovations to the show?
FH: To us as organisers, continuous development of the fair’s concept is fundamental. For one thing, it is our way of taking recent changes in the toy market into account. Not only that, but we are in constant discussion with both exhibitors and trade visitors, and the incorporation of new elements is purposely designed to meet the needs of our customers. And finally, the nature of trade fairs themselves is subject to changes that we take into consideration in the design of our fair. Everything we do is with the aim of ensuring the Spielwarenmesse is fit for the future.
After the Covid chaos of recent years, what kind of feeling are you getting about Spielwarenmesse for 2023?
FH: The dominant feeling is one of joy at finally being allowed to hold trade fairs again. The positive feedback we’ve had in advance from our participants is part of that, too. The present situation makes us highly confident. In recent months, many trade fairs have been a success in Germany – including our own stationery fair, Insights-X in Nuremberg, and SPIEL in Essen. At the moment it doesn’t look as though the government will be imposing any stricter regulations on us. Nonetheless, we shall be taking steps to ensure that all participants can safely visit the Spielwarenmesse. These include, for example, providing access to the Spielwarenmesse only by e-tickets that have to be obtained in advance.
“The dominant feeling is one of joy at finally being allowed to hold trade fairs again. The positive feedback we’ve had in advance from our participants is part of that, too”
What has the pandemic taught you about trade shows and their importance?
FH: Trade shows continue to represent a core business and networking platform for industries. In our sector in particular, it is important to be able to experience products with all the senses, to discover new companies and to build business relationships on a basis of trust. Because the pandemic has demonstrated that nothing can replace meeting people
After an enforced absence, retailers may have learned to live without a show such as Spielwarenmesse, why do you think they should attend?
FH: There are plenty of good reasons for attending the Spielwarenmesse. First of all, visitors save time and money, because the entire industry comes together here – they can meet all the important decision-makers in one place. Nowhere else is the range so vast, which means they can put together their own, quite individual selections. But personal contact and face-to-face discussion in particular should not be underestimated. Our networking parties such as the RedNight are also intended for this purpose. On top of all that, there is the dissemination of knowledge about the latest trends in retail and in the market. It makes the business efficiency quite unique.
What constitutes a successful show?
FH: We organise trade fairs for our exhibitors and visitors. They are the focus of everything we do. If they are satisfied, if they can discover exciting new ideas, take new knowledge away with them and make some successful deals, then all the effort and consideration that we put into planning and implementing the best possible event will have been worthwhile. Ultimately, the deciding factor for us is the atmosphere and the mood of all the participants.
What are the key messages from yourselves to retailers and potential visitors this year?
FH: As the most important industry event, the Spielwarenmesse should be a firm appointment in everyone’s calendar. We live by the service ethic and we want to make our visitors’ attendance as pleasant and efficient as we can.
What do you think will happen with the current scenario in China and how will it affect the show?
FH: Right now the industry faces many challenges, which will undoubtedly result in one or two postponements. We’ll have to see to what extent we can benefit from those challenges with our established timetable. In any event, we have been pleasantly surprised to have over 100 registrations from China. Thanks to our subsidiary in Shanghai, we are getting good support even in that market and are in active discussions.
Where will the show go beyond 2023?
FH: As a company providing trade fairs and services, we always keep a close eye on the market. From our experiences of the pandemic in recent years, we have learnt to react even more flexibly to the latest situation. We have also seen that nothing can replace personal contact. With our Spielwarenmesse Digital platform we can provide support all year round, which is ideal for networking and stimulates curiosity and interest in the next event.