Who’s Next - Première Classe shows launch new approach to bolster attendance
After two consecutive editions in which the number of visitors fell, there is a mood of anticipation around the forthcoming Who’s Next - Première Classe trade shows scheduled at Paris' Porte de Versailles exhibition centre from 20th to 23rd January. All the 1,500 fashion and accessories brands that are exhibiting hope the venue's aisles will be much busier in 2017 than in 2016, while the organisers have worked hard to make the shows more appealing and attract more visitors.
Their approach has been to concentrate on the market as a whole, and on the consumption trends arising from present social issues. This new direction, now encapsulated in the 'Girls Squad' theme and in the focus on the Z generation, was already a feature at the September edition, "but it will be even more so in January", said Jean-Marc André, the new Marketing and Communication Director at WSN Développement, the shows' organiser.
The shows unveiled their new look a few weeks ago and will host some 1,500 brands, a number which has remained relatively unchanged. The accessories show Première Classe is the most popular, featuring just over 800 labels. "The footwear and leather goods sectors are currently experiencing difficulties. Some of the brands needed convincing, but eventually the number of exhibitors has remained stable," said Jean-Marc André.
As for ready-to-wear apparel at Who's Next, the show's Fame and Private sections were easily filled, the Studio section is on par with last year, while the smaller Urban and Trendy sections (showing together in Hall 7) are not yet fully established. "We are laying the foundations to offer them better prospects. We hope our work will begin to bear fruit, leading to higher numbers," added Jean-Marc André.
This season the organisers have sought to improve clarity by highlighting two product segments: plus-size fashion and home decoration, the latter featured in a series of pop-up areas throughout the show.
The events will also publish a visitor magazine, to spark even more interest and emphasise the main trends on show. In addition, 18,000 copies of the magazine will be circulated in Paris throughout the week-end, to boost the shows' visibility and access.
Accessibility is indeed the other main strategy for attracting more visitors. Though the organisers defined the pre-registration trend as "rather positive", Jean-Marc André admitted that "it is a daily struggle. We are relying on the positive vibe generated by the September [edition] to attract visitors, as everything moves fast, including retailers' plans," said André.
In order to improve the show experience and better prepare the show visit, it is now possible to download the details of themed visitor routes. Among them, those that are proving most popular with the show website's users are 'Made in France', 'Activewear' and 'Emerging Talents'.
But improved attendance figures cannot be achieved only by making the shows more accessible, and by stimulating the regular visitors' curiosity. Who’s Next – Première Classe are also seeking to boost their numbers by trying to tap new targets: "We have explored new markets, notably those businesses which are peripheral to the industry but whose retailers might consider apparel or accessories as an attractive complementary product," said Jean-Marc André.
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