3 questions to . . . Xavier Clergerie The general manager of the Who’s Next Prêt à Porter Paris trade shows

He tells us why trade shows are a useful marketing tool.

What is the purpose of trade shows?

Trade shows make it easier for brands and retailers to do business, although I should point out that this isn’t true for all brands. Luxury labels, for example, don’t need us because they have their own powerful marketing strategies and distribution channels. On the other hand, our trade shows allow brands without representatives in France or in the export market and/or without structured distribution networks to reach a maximum number of retailers within a very short timeframe. As well as enabling exhibitors to widen their networks and expand their customer base, we are now working towards helping them fill their order books. For retailers, trade shows are a fast-track way of seeing what’s new, getting a comprehensive overview of the industry, keeping up with the latest trends and snapping up the season’s must-have products, thus helping them to manage their purchasing strategies more efficiently.

Why are trade shows an essential marketing tool?

Because we provide a unique insight into changing consumer habits. From the outset we have always tailored our events to what the consumer wants, not only in terms of fashion but also entertainment. So each new session highlights the latest consumer trends. Retailers immediately pick up on this. The upcoming session, for example, is themed around nature and the concept of rational buying. In short, we’re like a unique trends book in 3-D, which explains why we’re the leaders in women’s fashion both in France and internationally.

What’s next?

We will be increasingly concentrating on research and analysis, because market fragmentation means that consumers will need to be more focused. Nowadays we are moving away from over-consumption, buying things and not use them. It’s a phenomenon we’re seeing in many other activities. In the food industry, for example, supermarkets are experiencing a slowdown as smaller specialist stores are making a comeback. We are also launching a portal on our site to encourage year-round contact between brands, retailers, buyers and the general public. Every season we will be selecting and promoting key pieces and limited-edition items from our exhibitors’ collections, which will link back to the brands’ own websites, creating more traffic and stimulating sales.

Upcoming session: 30 June to 3 July 2012 at Paris – Porte de Versailles

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