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Cheers & Jeers from KBIS & IBS 2018

Power made the annual trip down to the biggest show in home products to check out who's #winning and who could use some help.

As a specialist agency focusing on residential products, nothing gets our juices flowing more than the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and the International Builders Show (IBS). Yeah, we’re home geeks like that.

In addition to sending account teams to support clients exhibiting at the two shows, we also sent a crew to check out the latest booth designs, techniques, approaches and tech. After all, trade shows are a big part of the B2D2C* marketing equation and present a significant opportunity to connect with current and potential customers, generate excitement, test messaging and tactics, and raise brand and product awareness (to name a few). The stakes are high!

So, from a marketing perspective, how did this year’s crop of exhibitors do? On the whole…awesome! 



#1 Art installations – So refreshing 

The utilization of art really stood out this year. From illustration to graffiti, art elements were heavily incorporated into booth designs and product presentations by numerous brands — some went so far as to include artists at work. We were instantly drawn to these installations. And although the executions varied, each one helped its respective brand stand out as authentic and inventive. It was extremely refreshing.  

#2 Large-scale video displays – Getting better

As display and projection technology get better and more affordable, so do trade show booths — and we saw A LOT of stand-out executions. Static images and text on walls or panels are simply ineffectual (and almost invisible) in comparison. The ability to inspire, educate, attract and communicate messages with video is too powerful to ignore.

#3 Gorgeous vignettes – Inviting and brand enhancing 

Wow, booth designers are raising their game. Creating “lifestyle” vignettes is not a new idea, but the attention to detail and craftsmanship in some of this year’s booths was on another level. These environments really enhanced the customer experience and helped incite a visceral reaction to the brand and/or product.  

#4 Beverages – Every desire met 

Espresso. Tea. Coke. Water. Beer. Shots (that’s right, shots!). Yes, every thirst you could have was quenched at KBIS/IBS. Now, the price was your opt-in to a mailing list (via badge scanner). But it was a small price to pay for a pick-me-up or slow-me-down. Beverages were the new tchotchkes. They were highly effective, attractive and appreciated.



#1 Bad badge-scanning efforts – Swing and miss

The desperation to scan badges was on full display. And, frankly, too many were random, awkward and uncomfortable (which affected our impression of the offending brands). Scanned badges are a measurable KPI that EVERY exhibitor should incorporate into their booth marketing strategy. But the process must be seamless and support the customer experience. Give attendees a compelling incentive! Train booth attendants on protocol! Stop surprise scanner attacks!

#2 Interactive displays – More, more, more!

I was shocked how few interactive displays were present. Most were static or on a video loop. Some were simply the exhibitors’ websites (yawn). We ran into a small handful of truly interactive touchscreens, which allowed us to explore the brand, product portfolio and sales channel tools on our own – at our own pace. Interactivity is so important to customer engagement – it’s a must-do for the 2019 KBIS/IBS!

#3 VR/AR – Where are they?

Admittedly, the 2018 show included more VR/AR than we saw in 2017…but not THAT much more. What’s the reason? The tech is well on its way to reaching critical mass. Development is more affordable than ever. Why hesitate? These mediums represent the future of home product shopping, selection, education, training and marketing. Get on board, people!

#4 Audio and voiceover – Please stop!

Videos with audio (especially with voiceover) at a trade show like KBIS is an absolute no-no. It’s just unpleasant, garbled noise. And nine times out of ten, the voiceover is unintelligible. So why include it? If you have a video, do a version with a soft music bed, utilize text to communicate messaging, and spare our ears the audio assault.

Looking ahead to 2019

Developing a great trade show booth experience is tough business. There’s an art to it, and there are many variables to consider. A solid marketing approach, customized to your target audience, can go a long way toward helping you get most out of your investment. That’s where Power can help. Whether it’s a strategy to stimulate engagement, or an engaging interactive game to educate and drive traffic, we can help. Contact us today!       



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