Ambiente: Final Report

Five days of sunshine over Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre and five days of high spirits at Ambiente. By the time it closed its doors on Tuesday evening, the international consumer-goods fair in Frankfurt, which was opened by Germany's Minister for Economics and Technology, Michael Glos, on Friday morning, had once again attracted almost 150,000 visitors.

The fair was given a positive rating by almost all participants on both the exhibitor and visitor sides. And this opinion was shared by the organisers: "Ambiente 2008 has given a clear signal for the coming year and confirmed its position as the world's and biggest consumer-goods fair. The industry presented persuasive product innovations and the international trade was in the mood for ordering. As an indicator of future business developments, Ambiente gives all concerned good reason to take an optimistic view of the coming months", said Dr. Michael Peters, Member of the Board of Management of Messe Frankfurt GmbH.

This year, the world's biggest trade fair for the table and kitchen, the home, furnishing and presents was more international than ever before. 46 percent of all visitors came from outside Germany, a jump of around seven percent compared to the previous year, which compensated for the slight decline in the number of visitors from the domestic market.

Italy heads the list of the best-represented visitor nations and is followed by Spain, France (with a double-digit rate of visitor growth), Great Britain and Netherlands. Moreover, positive figures were also returned by all East European countries and important overseas markets, such as Japan, the United Arab Emirates, South America and India. Despite the weak dollar exchange rate, 3,500 visitors came to Frankfurt from the United States of America. Altogether, buyers from 138 countries of the world made their way to Frankfurt for Ambiente 2008 (2007: 128 countries) where they encountered 4,590 exhibitors, 69 percent from outside Germany.

Thomas Grothkopp, General Manager of the German Federation for Tableware, Housewares and Home Culture (Bundesverband für den gedeckten Tisch, Hausrat und Wohnkultur e.V.) noted: "This year's Ambiente was once again the international focal point for the sectors concerned and was distinguished by convincing new products, good marketing concepts for the specialist trade and, for example, target-group oriented assortments for the Arabian and Russian economic regions in the luxury segment, which also plays a significant role in Germany."

The high degree of buyer internationality also produced numerous positive reactions from Ambiente exhibitors. Heike Tscherwinka, General Manager of the European Lifestyle Association, which represents around 70 trendsetters from the consumer-goods industry, said, "This year's Ambiente was characterised by more visitors, especially international visitors, and good export business. The mood across the board was very good." Denis Schrey, CEO of Leifheit AG, summarised saying, "We are pleased with the course of business at the fair, especially the first day, which was extraordinarily busy. In particular, we have noticed a very large number of international visitors while our domestic business has remained at last year's level. The reaction to new products is always an indicator of the mood among customers and the way things are likely to develop in the future. And the echo to our innovations has been incredibly good, chiefly from the international market." Richard Weidenbach, Marketing Manager of Bosch and Siemens Household Appliances, confirmed: "A large proportion of visitors came from outside Germany – and they held the right positions in their companies."

Indeed, three quarters of all buyers came from the upper and middle managerial echelons with 68 percent being solely or jointly responsible for taking their company's purchasing decisions. Visitors gave Ambiente top marks: 95 percent said they were satisfied to extremely satisfied with the degree to which they had achieved their goals for the fair. In particular, the German trade saw the current economic situation in a much more positive light than last year. 36 percent rated it as being good, an increase of five percent.

Ambiente has further strengthened its position as the presentation platform for small electrical appliances. More than 70 exhibitors from this segment took advantage of the fair to cultivate existing contacts and to make new ones. Heinz Werner Ochs, Chairman of Pro Business ElektroHausgeräte e.V., said: "This has been the best Ambiente for Pro Business members. The echo to the products and innovations shown has been extraordinarily – much better than last year. The number of visitors from outside Germany was also very good." This opinion was shared by Susanne Hauck of small electrical appliance manufacturers De'Longhi: "The level of internationality rises from year to year. And the significance of the fair for domestic business also continues to rise. The number of visitors was very good. Customers are very appreciative of the fact that they can obtain detailed information about the products at the fair."

In addition to the latest product ranges being shown by the world's manufacturers, the large number of national and international design awards and trend shows at Ambiente were important sources of inspiration for the trade. Highlights included the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Design Plus Award and the Trend Forum in the Galleria created by stylists bora.herka on behalf of Messe Frankfurt. This year, much praise was given to the national presentation by around 70 selected Japanese designers and manufacturers entitled 'Japan Style'.

For the third time running, members of the public also have the op¬portunity to experience some of the flair of the fair in downtown Frankfurt where, together with CityForum ProFrankfurt, Messe Frankfurt organised 'Ambiente goes City'. Until Saturday, 16 February, 40 specialist retailers and department stores in Frankfurt city centre are showing the trends and latest products of 35 Ambiente exhibitors in special display areas and shop windows. "With the 'Ambiente goes City' campaign, we have once again succeeded in fascinating consumers with trends and impressions from the world's biggest consumer-goods fair", said Heinz Schmitz, General Manager of CityForum ProFrankfurt. "Yet again, the elaborate and impressive displays have proved to be a veritable enrichment for the City of Frankfurt."

Sustainability, elegance, clarity and luxury – the new trend is towards sophistication and premium quality. The age of retro and baroque is past. 2008 will be a year of self-assured elegance. Modern, clear and natural lines are the determining characteristics. Less is more – and better. At the same time, people are becoming more socially aware and desirous of a more 'natural' lifestyle. In the home, this is reflected by the use of materials such as wood, ceramic and stone, as well as by the growing interest in product sustainability. When it comes to colour, white sets the tone. In combination with brown, beige and gold, it creates a natural and warm feeling in the home. Combined with the new grey and silver, interiors are given a more refined touch. However, bright colours also have a role to play with blackberry, purple, apple green and ocean blue setting fresh, spring-time accents.

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