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12 Nov 2020

In this exceptional pandemic situation linked to Covid-19, we have heard the testimony of Séverine Lemoine, 360° Communication Manager at Ingredia Dairy Experts who reminds us about the importance of B2B trade shows in the communication strategy of a company operating internationally. This testimony enlightens us about the benefits provided by the “trade show” media for an exhibitor, about the “disturbances” linked to the lack of physical events, but also about the transformation of behaviors and uses.

Trade shows are part of the most essential communication channels to promote our products.

Can you briefly introduce us with the activities of your company as well as your job functions at Ingredia?

Ingredia Dairy Experts is a French dairy company developing and producing innovative ingredients; dairy powders, functional and nutritional proteins as well as natural active ingredients, in favour of the agro-food and Nutrition-Health industries. Expert in innovation, Ingredia listens to its customers to constantly improve their products. My mission is to ensure 360° and business oriented communications.

As a 360° Communication Manager, are you therefore in charge of, among other topics, the participation of Ingredia in trade shows?

Indeed, trade shows are an integral part of communication tools.

How important are B2B fairs to your company’s communication strategy? How many shows do you take part in a “normal” context?

Trade shows are part of the most essential communication channels to promote our products. Ingredia participates in 10 exhibitions a year, we are present in Europe, Asia, US and in the Middle East. Our export turnover represents 60% of our overall turnover, the budget allocated to this type of communication is around 50% of our global communication budget.

… a lot of project development comes to light after a trade show.

What are your main objectives when participating in these international events?

The objectives are multiple. The show allows in one place to launch innovations, meet customers, “hook” prospects, conduct a rich networking, discover new products, benchmark whether product, competitor, press or stand design …

And for what repercussions?

The trade shows benefits are very important for our activities, a lot of project development comes into light after a trade show.

How do you feel about the repeated cancellations of trade shows due to the COVID19?

We understand of course the decisions taken by the authorities, the health of our employees comes first! However, it is a huge frustration for our sales teams not to be able to use this trade show tool to promote our products and do face to face business.

We also fear the loss of visibility in the various markets.

Do you see a shortfall for a company like yours which favours trade shows in its communication strategy?

Development projects generally take between 6 to 24 months, we will be able to draw conclusions  in 2021. Today, networking is starting to be affected.

Beyond financial “disruptions”, what are the other consequences for your company?

The lack of human relations necessarily! We also fear the loss of visibility in the various markets.

Have the organizers of the canceled shows put in place solutions to allow your industry to “meet” anyway?

The various organizers have put in place digital solutions such as virtual trade shows or webinars.

What was your user feedback in experiencing these alternatives to physical meetings?

The digitization turn was “accelerated” in relation to the health crisis. We were already participating in webinars but not in virtual fairs. The first experiences were not very comfortable. I would say that this format deserves to be improved by organizers and the sales teams educated. But we are agile and we adapt!

Hybridization seems essential to meet expectations around the world.

Do you think that digital or virtual could eventually replace trade shows as we know them?

I am convinced that NO! The digital comes to compensate this atypical situation, it remains a good relay of promotion in a special context. But nothing replaces a face to face event for the reasons mentioned above.

Will you keep the B2B events at the heart of your communication strategy with the same intensity and the same importance?

The trade show has a significant financial cost. Switching it to a digital format saves money; no running costs, no booth construction, etc … We believe in keeping major trade shows in our strategy and increasing online conferences for example. We will analyze the fallout within 6 to 12 months.

Will you adopt a new behavior in preparing your participations in B2B events?

Hybridization seems essential to meet expectations around the world. At a European virtual event in September 2020, we noticed a surge of Asian visitors. This format also allows us to have new contacts that we would not have had in face to face.

Finally ! the real life ! real relationships! a real trade show! 🙂

More personally, what do you miss the most about not being physically present at a trade show?

Being at a trade show is the accomplishment of many weeks of work! The excitement before the opening, the team spirit during the installation, the atmosphere during the show with meeting visitors, customers, the press, discovering new products, attending to conferences … I miss it all!

To conclude, you trusted Live & co for the design and build of your exhibition stand at Vitafoods in Geneva but it could not be set up in 2020… How will you feel when you could “finally” tread on your stand at this event?

Finally! The real life! Real relationships! A real trade show! 🙂

Thank you Séverine for your frank and sincere answers! And see you very soon in Geneva at Vitafoods 2021.