When IFA calls, the entire industry answers
The world’s leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances is back in business
Dr Sara Warneke, Managing Director of IFA organizer gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH, explains what makes IFA such a unique event.
So what can trade visitors expect from this year’s IFA edition?
We are really delighted to see that the industry presence at IFA 2022 is at such a high level, and to welcome back our long-standing partners, all of whom are attending the show, which is an important signal. The diversity of our exhibitors and the representation of almost the entire market are also strong prerequisites for the success of our exhibitors and trade visitors as well.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in setting up this year’s event?
Well, the headquarters of many of the companies exhibiting at IFA are located in other parts of the world. So the decision of whether to take part in IFA is not only made in Germany or Europe. In some of these places the pandemic continues to have an impact. In addition, these decision are usually taken well in advance, so many companies had to make a decision earlier in the year, at a time when there was still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the situation. Plus, there are still some pandemic related travel restrictions around the world. Nonetheless, we are delighted to see so many industry players returning to IFA and are expecting very good coverage.
What makes IFA so different compared to other events of its kind?
IFA is the world’s most important trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances. Its a unique concept which covers all relevant target groups, including industry, trade and media, as well as the consumers. In addition, it serves as an important order platform for retailers in the run-up to what is traditionally the strongest sales period of the year.
How has the consumer electronics and home appliances markets been performing over the past two years?
In 2020 and 2021 there was a pandemic related boom with exceptional growth rates, but this phase has recently come to a rather abrupt end, with markets declining globally. However for most segments, and this is an important point, we are still above the pre-pandemic levels from 2018/19.
So where exactly are the biggest growth markets?
We can either look at absolute numbers or growth rates. In terms of absolute numbers, by far the largest growth in turnover recorded in 2021 was for China followed by Western Europe. Then looking at the highest growth rates in 2021, these were achieved in Russia, Ukraine and Latin America. This of course was in 2021, an important detail, because the Russia-Ukraine conflict will undoubtedly change the market development of both countries fundamentally.
So what do think the main trends will be at IFA this year?
As usual, IFA will be the stage for all industry trends for the consumer electronics and home appliances markets. This will certainly include topics of the TV segment such as picture size, resolution, picture enhancements and perfect sound, as well as streaming. But also segments of the major and small domestic appliances, including the built-in kitchen appliances, which I am sure will present new possibilities of how to improve life at home. Let’s also not forget the latest product innovations in the area of body care and wellness. As well, I think we will see a lot of new developments concerning the sustainability segment which will also be a driving innovation across all sectors, I’m sure.
So what are the main changes driving the industry at the moment?
Well, sustainability for sure, is one of the defining themes of the industry and modern approaches to sustainability now include the entire lifecycle of the product. Spanning from development to production, they also deal with transport, logistics, as well as energy consumption of the product while it’s in use and of course, end of life-cycle solutions. In addition, topics like supply chain issues, rising energy costs and exceptionally high transport costs will also need to be addressed.
So what are the biggest challenges for retailers at the moment?
Just like everywhere, the retailers are also dealing with the increasing energy costs and in addition, there’s a weakening demand in the market. This is in part due to the inflation we’ve seen over the past few months and additionally, people are very worried about paying their energy bills and are trying to save money wherever it’s possible. Nevertheless, we also think there are some strong opportunities for growth, for example in the appliances sector with high energy efficiency. Also, there is the World Cup coming up later this year, which I believe has the potential to give a positive impulse.
What excites you the most about the TCG (Technical Consumer Goods) market today?
I’m genuinely fascinated by the speed of innovation in TCG products and I think it’s really exciting that given the current situation, where there is a strong focus on sustainability and energy scarcity, the industry is always coming up with successful devices which use less energy while at the same time managing to add more features to enrich our lives.
Prior to becoming the Managing Director at gfu in September 2020, Dr Warneke has worked as a senior manager for the Consumer Electronics and Satellite & Cable associations of the ZVEI – Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie (German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association) and as an advisor to gfu.