The January edition of Maison&Objet was full of surprises: including the general transport strike, on the very opening day, which complicated access to the fair. Despite this, right from the start the atmosphere was positive, an impression confirmed by the satisfaction of many exhibitors who, post-event, spoke of a good level of attendance in both quantitative and qualitative terms.
We spoke about this with Caroline Biros, the fair’s Marketing & Communications Director. Who, already looking ahead to the September edition (and beyond), also spoke to us about an important evolution for the event.
What are your post-event observations?
We felt an impressive energy. And – especially in the international audience – we saw a great desire to see new things, to meet each other, to see things in person and not on a monitor, to touch them. There was optimism and openness. Also from the exhibitors: many brought their stands to life with music, meetings, cocktails. And that was the case for all five days of the event. There was also a good level of orders, even though we know that on average two thirds of visitors prefer to place orders between one and six months after the fair. An atmosphere that has not been felt for years. Let’s not forget that this is only the fourth edition since the pandemic.
More than 67,000 visitors, and of these 45% from abroad: a percentage in line with the pre-Covid period. Although the Chinese and Koreans were not there, and even from Japan they are still a bit shy. Italy, on the other hand, has grown compared to 2019, now being the second largest country of origin for visitors. Other countries that recorded a very positive figure are Belgium and the Netherlands.
On countries further afield, the United States basically held its own (albeit slightly down, -5%) while the Middle East area proved very dynamic, again with figures that surpassed those of 2019. There were around 2,300 participating brands: pre-Covid there were around 3,000, but today there are many foreign companies that are moving less. And many have invested in digital tools. At the fair, visitors found 500 new entries; and among the international brands, Italians ranked first, followed by Spain, Belgium and Denmark: the design countries.
What trends have you registered?
A great desire for strong colour, a form of optimism. Oranges, purples, full reds – this in premium/luxury brands, so we can imagine it will have a cascading effect. The second trend is towards ‘raw’ material: for example, roughly worked marble, as if it were still a block; very ‘liquid’ glass; stones such as slate. Like a duality between digital progress and matter with a strong sensorial dimension.
This mood is destined to continue: for the September edition the theme will be ‘Enjoy’, a watchword full of optimism. In this context, we will be launching a new section, Wellbeing & Beauty, in which we will bring together an offer articulated around wellbeing, in a very holistic way: from massage stones to beauty products, from candles to tarot cards.
How do you do your scouting for new ideas and brands?
We have teams that attend trade fairs around the world (events for professionals as well as B2C), and – in some regions – agents. We also do a lot of research via social media, especially on small companies. We also work with trend agencies that point us to interesting brands. It’s an ecosystem that always brings us new ideas.
On top of that there are spontaneous applications from companies, of which we discard about 30 per cent on average: either because their product is not consistent with us in terms of positioning (usually due to a lack of creativity), or because in our opinion they are not yet ready.
Speaking of digital: what are your plans for the future?
We have been working for a year and a half on a complementary offer to the fair, completely online. And in spring we will launch it. In the future, companies will be able to choose which platform to be on: digital, physical or both. It is like an evolution of MOM, our year-round online platform (where companies can only show a limited number of products), into a marketplace where visitors can actually make purchases. It has to be said that MOM does not only welcome trade fair brands: around 30 per cent are companies that choose to be only on the digital platform. In an exclusively B2B dimension: in order to register as a buyer, one has to present precise documentation.
From this novelty comes another, namely that we will be able to install B2B e-shops on the brands’ sites. We will also deal with services such as ‘buy now pay later’, with 30-day payments but with the company receiving the money directly, a model developed together with credit organisations. The third element, which will make its debut next September, is that companies will be able to write orders directly on this same platform, thus also simplifying the post-fair follow-up. We are the only players in the exhibition world to provide such a product, which goes beyond the physical and temporal boundaries of the event. We aim to achieve 25 per cent of our turnover with this platform.
What is your goal (in terms of companies involved)?
Our goal for the launch is to have a thousand companies with us. At the moment there are about 4,000 on MOM, the goal is to have more than half of them on the new platform. Maybe three quarters. This will be a tool not only for sales – perfect for companies that produce objects and complements, for instance – but also for contact between company and customer, indispensable in the case of one-off or custom-made items, which will also allow the customer to ask for and receive quotes.
How many articles will it be in total?
We expect to have 10 thousand at launch. And we are aiming for 25 thousand by the end of the year, all purchasable online.