The Discover Beauty pavilion
at Cosmoprof North America
Ask any trade show
organizer to defend the value of his or her event, and
Exhibit A is likely to be the indispensable opportunity for
face-to-face interaction between buyers and sellers. It may well be
true, even in the Internet and iPhone age, that nothing beats a
handshake or a sit-down meeting. But that argument begs two
questions: Are trade shows equally effective venues for everyone,
regardless of company size or budget, looking to make one-on-one
connections? And, more importantly, are trade shows ideal
environments for face-to-face meetings?
In recent years, some show organizers
have tinkered with the formats of their shows, shifting the
emphasis away from the traditional exhibit floor with endless rows
of booths, simply for the sake of change. Dwindling attendance and
waning exhibitor support have forced other organizers to invent new
models for their events to save them from obsolescence.
Here’s a look at some companies and
associations that have abandoned the standard trade show format in
search of a better model that focuses more directly on pairing
buyers and sellers, and helping smaller companies compete on an
even playing field with industry leaders.
A pavilion is a specially themed group
of exhibitors that is set apart from the rest on a trade show
floor. Creating a pavilion can be a baby step toward change -- a
way to inject new life into a show without a conceptual
Earlier this year, however, Daniela
Ciocan, Las Vegas-based director of marketing for Societa Gestione
Cosmoprof (SoGeCos), an Italian company that produces several
beauty and cosmetics shows, took pavilions to a new level entirely.
It happened at Cosmoprof North America, held in July at the
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Ciocan conceived and launched Discover
Beauty, a pavilion for a dozen U.S. startups and foreign cosmetics
firms entering the U.S. market for the first time. Each exhibitor,
which Ciocan hand-picked after reviewing applicants’ products, not
only enjoyed desirable foot traffic, because Discover Beauty was
marketed as a special destination on the show floor, but benefitted
from a host of other services that would have cost thousands of
dollars elsewhere, if they could be purchased at all.
Ciocan arranged for each Discover
Beauty exhibitor to meet with VIP buyers from high-end specialty
stores such as Nordstrom and Sephora, people who normally don’t
attend many trade shows and are out of reach for most young
But Ciocan didn’t stop there. Using her
industry contacts, she set up meetings with beauty magazine editors
in New York and personally pitched the exhibitors’ new products to
them. She also consulted with each exhibiting company in the
pavilion, prepping representatives for their one-on-one meetings
with buyers. She helped them ready presentations and, in some
cases, showed them how to write effective press releases.
When the exhibitors arrived at the
show, all they had to bring were samples of their products. To
minimize the discrepancies between companies with disparate budgets
for exhibit booth design, Ciocan discouraged exhibitors from
bringing decorations, in part to control the clean, tasteful look
of the pavilion, and in part to counteract the “arms race” of booth
decor. “We wanted to give equal opportunity to everyone,” she
The endeavor yielded “phenomenal
results,” according to Ciocan, but it was costly to produce,
despite the fact that exhibitors paid higher-than-normal
registration fees to participate. The process monopolized Ciocan’s
time and energy, and SoGeCos didn’t quite break even on the feature
this first year, Ciocan notes. However, she views the pavilion,
which will likely double in size for next year’s show, as an
investment that will help the overall show grow.
Discover Beauty attracted new and loyal
exhibitors and engaged high-end retailers, a market segment that’s
currently underrepresented at Cosmoprof North America.