This weekend sees the massive Professional Beauty exhibition take place at London’s ExCel Centre. It is branded as the ‘flagship event’ for the beauty industry, but is this still the case?
Once upon a time there was just one beauty exhibition per year, making it THE event for every therapist and supplier to attend. There were some fantastic show deals to be done as there was a captive market on hand. When I first joined the industry, this single show no longer existed, but many more had taken its place. These days, the list of exhibitions has slimmed down a little, but with at least five major events taking place throughout the year, it is difficult to know what they can realistically bring to the industry.
A walk around an exhibition reveals a wide range of brands, but not as many as you might think. A stand at an exhibition once it has been built, stocked and staffed can cost tens of thousands of pounds, and so many suppliers have thought twice about whether this is really the best way to reach their customers. Several now do online offers over the show period and benefit greatly without the outlay of going to the show.
Also, most of the big shows are run by the major magazines. Politics plays it part, and if a supplier doesn’t have a good relationship with that magazine, chances are they won’t be there.
The exhibitions are a money-making exercise, not just for the suppliers, but also the organisers behind the show. This means that they cannot afford to have empty space in their hall, and so they have a tendency to fill it with companies who have no place at a professional beauty show. These have included tarot card reading, handbags and chocolate fountains to name but a few. Over the years this has given the shows a very bad name, and so some have attempted to address the quality of their exhibitors, but some still slip through.
Many therapists complain about the exhibitors that were at each show. My advice for them is simple; each show releases a list of exhibitors in advance, so check beforehand to see if the companies you want are there.
The shows can get very busy, so if you do visit, wear some comfy shoes and take a big bag. Prepare to have your toes run over by trolleys multiple times, and expect to fight for a seat at lunchtime. The shows tend to be run over a Sunday and Monday, with Monday being student day.
The shows are not the quality that they once were, but they are still a fantastic opportunity to see a wide range of products under one roof. If you are investing in a new product line then you need to be able to see and feel it as well as just buying based on what you read on the internet. It is also a good chance to question the people behind the brand and see if they are as knowledgeable as you need them to be.
A show is still a valuable tool for surveying new products, networking and just a good old-fashioned day out shopping!