19 November 2020

MAPIC 2020 in review

By James Way

In an industry where relationships are key, we always wondered how a virtual MAPIC would fare. MAPIC, like flagship events in other industries, is a time to build on current relationships and forge new ones. Some of that work is done on exhibition stands and during planned meetings but you can’t beat bumping into an old acquaintance at Caffe Roma and dreaming up business opportunities over a glass of rosé. And that may be the problem.

We are a social bunch and we like to do things in an “old-school” way. Personal relationships are key, and they just don’t translate as well over a video call. In other industries, such as travel, that are like-minded in their approach and have been equally decimated by COVID, attempts have been made to bring a level of structure to these digital forums and in some cases they have succeeded. “Speed dating” style events that once took place across rows of desks in big conference halls have relatively seamlessly been migrated to a series of meetings in different “rooms” on video conferencing software, but, like MAPIC, those expos with less structure have struggled.  

It is hard to totally reinvent something which has remained the same for years, particularly something where instead of being in the south of France in a balmy 20 degrees, this year meant being hunched over your computer in the middle of another lockdown. The mindsets of the two situations couldn’t be further apart and for this year at MAPIC it showed.  

We had more no shows than show ups to planned calls and it seemed that a lot of people who signed up were absent. Unsurprising really when your investment and therefore commitment only extends to £180 for a ticket rather than a flight, hotel, expenses and an exhibition stand.

If this is the future of MAPIC, a lot will need to be done through creative thought to make a virtual format work, but our feeling is that for an industry built on personal relationships, you can’t beat the real thing.

Event structure aside, we did attend a few seminars which played around a few key trends that we have also been giving a commentary on this year. See below some of our top picks –

1.       Psychographic analysis trumps demographic analysis

This is particularly important for effective advertising and something we focus on with our clients. Because two people are from the same catchment, of a similar age, same gender and ethnic background doesn’t mean they think the same. Psychographic information centres around a person’s interests, hobbies, emotional triggers, and lifestyle choices. It helps to inform why they might buy a product or service. Interest-based targeting is therefore a critical layer for any digital advertising you are doing, particularly paid social.

2.       The rise of mixed-use developments

This is something we covered back in April as part of our "Future of Retail" series. With the rise of online it is imperative for schemes to become “regional experience centres”, with the experience being the hook to draw people in, not the retail mix. If anything, retail may become secondary to the proposition as more space is given over to leisure, F&B, offices and residential. Developers need to think differently about this for their schemes to survive.

3.       Think Physical Retail, think different 

COVID is not the cause of changes in shopper behaviour, as those changes were happening anyway. It has just sped up the inevitable by several years. Online is here to stay. Those that used it continue to, and those that didn’t before now do. It is not the end of physical stores though; far from it. The online experience has its limitations. You can’t touch, smell or “feel” a product online, so stores becoming brand experience centres, rather than being places to simply shift stock, is the future, and that future is now.

4.       Reinventing retail with entertainment

Following on from the last two points, having great brand experiences and a strong leisure offering is important, but to then rest on one’s laurels would be a mistake. Much like a theme park changing its rides every few years, mixed use destinations need to do the same. The same offering year in year out will quickly turn stale. Consumers, by definition “consume” so keep things interesting. Evolve your offering, embrace technology and maintain your customers’ appetite to keep coming back.

 

Like what you hear?  Get in touch at [email protected]oup.com to carry on the conversation.

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