Sustainability, an underlying trend at Media Expo

By 16 Mar 2020

Michael Dehn, general manager at Messe Frankfurt India, discusses the latest trends and technologies in the OOH and signage industry with PrintWeek's Aultrin Vijay

Dehn: Media Expo has grown 70% since we purchased it

Aultrin Vijay (AV): Media Expo show going strong...
Michael Dehn (MD): Media Expo has been around for a while now and this is the 46th edition. There are other regional editions as well, such as the New Delhi edition. Over the last couple of years, this show has strongly grown and has a really good following. The halls are packed right from the morning till the time it closes. Our exhibitors are very loyal and participate in every single show. So, it’s pretty much the platform where you come every six months, pick up your business, and then go. This particular show is being held under circumstances where the industry is experiencing issues due to ongoing crisis in China.

AV: Has the show met your expectations?
MD: Yes, of course. The show has developed very nicely and I think it has grown 70% since the time we purchased the show four to five years ago. So we are very happy with it and we are continuing to look at growth opportunities within this industry. 

AV: What are the trends you saw?
MD: When you look at the show and the underlying trends, it’s hard to come up with a new trend every six months because that’s not actually happening. But the one very strong underlying trend of every single exhibitor is sustainability. Every new product and material launch will talk about the sustainable features. And the customers out there are demanding more sustainable products. We are one of these customers and we are also demanding that. We also want to know from our suppliers what material and printing they’re using.

AV: In terms of the materials you use at the show, a lot of them may not be sustainable or reused. What kind of alternatives have you looked at?
MD: That’s a very good point because an exhibition is also producing a lot of waste. We have to face it, right? After the show, some of the stands are demolished and thrown away, which generates waste. Luckily, we’re sitting in a booth that we built and is totally reusable, save for some prints. Everything here is reused every single time. We are trying to get the interest of our exhibitors to look for reusable solutions. There are fantastic system stands that can be reused for up to 10 years and up to 10 times a year. The exhibitors however are free to make their own choices. They’re free to engage their own contractors. From our end, we are trying to use reusable system stands for our own needs.  

AV: One technology that you think is underrated and will grab eyeballs this year?
MD: I think there’s a lot of interesting materials, not technology, such as materials for POP, branding, print, which still haven’t reached the volumes that they would deserve. I think there could be a lot more variety. I’ve seen some new things here, which caught my eye. What I would say is that the combination of print and digital with mobile offers a lot of opportunities to create some really interesting synergies between a static printed, digital display and the mobile phone. There are a lot of things that are still coming out of it. And I’m sure that there’s still a lot of creativity that’s sleeping there. And that’s something that I’m really curious to see in the future. 

AV: What is the biggest challenge for wide-format digital print, today? How is the industry in India responding to retail, e-commerce, OOH and sustainability challenges?
MD: I think the challenge is that this industry is potentially producing a lot of wastage. It is trying to implement more sustainable solutions, but the customers are not always willing to pay for them. To overcome that, there has to be an offering to make the alternative reasonably priced so that it’s more attractive for the masses.
Forecast has always said the online shopping will kill big malls and so on. I think we pretty much know that’s not the case. On the one hand, online shopping is growing, but there are a lot of concepts that integrate online shopping with physical retail stores.

AV: Is there a trend you see elsewhere, which is not happening here?
MD: Well, I can’t really compare. But, to drive the sustainability, there are three powers that drive it: the government, the customer, and the ethics. If you feel that it’s an important issue and you are a printer, you may want to solve it without any external pressure.

AV: If you were on a flight with the Finance Minister of India, what is the one thing you would like to tell her about our industry?
MD: Very simple! She’s the finance minister, and I would certainly not ask her for money. I would just want to make sure she understands the importance of exhibitions. 

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