A global leader in the B2B exhibitions space, the UK-headquartered Reed Exhibitions Worldwide, which started its India operations in 2006, is gearing up to lead in this space in the country. With a committed US $50 million investment over three years towards acquisitions and organic growth, the company – with its record of more than 460 events across 52 industry segments – reckons its success in India will depend heavily on its ability to juggle the demands of this country's highly entrepreneurial and sometimes anarchic business culture with the professional disciplines for which Reed is respected worldwide.
Nick Forster, group commercial director, Reed Exhibitions Worldwide, says, "In a short span of 18 months, Reed Exhibitions India has grown exponentially, and now has a portfolio of seven exhibitions across the jewellery, pharmaceutical machinery, electronic components, personal care health ingredients, oil & gas and aluminium industry verticals. Our first show was JCK New Delhi, an extension of one the most important shows from Reed's global portfolio, JCK Las Vegas."
Reed Exhibitions India is planning to have more than 100 people on its direct payroll in India. It has recently acquired COMPONEX, a 12-years-old electronic components show, and Aluminum India. "We are looking to acquire more such shows in future. Our basic investment would be on the acquisitions of important shows in India," says Forster.
Besides acquisitions, Reed plans also to launch shows from its existing portfolio. Forster says there will be at least four new exhibitions launched in India every year over the next four years, either from the portfolio or through acquisitions.
Exhibitions, as a business, Forster is convinced, is a highly attractive marketing option. "Exhibitions are an influential, flexible and highly cost-effective business tool, as well as being significant wealth generators in their own right. In established economies, they are a vital part of the marketing mix, alongside direct selling, advertising, direct mail and the Internet. In new and emerging markets, they are a major stimulus for industrial and commercial development," he says emphatically.
The India attraction for the company is obvious: the country is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. "With growth in almost all industrial sectors, the need to have organised and large scale buyers' and sellers' meets is imperative for further growth. That makes it really exciting and challenging for an organisation like ours," says Forster.
What about competition? Forster says that competition is growing both from Indian and international companies. At this nascent stage, he adds, good, organisers will only make the industry grow and create differentiation from poorly organised shows.
And the key challenges? "Indian B2B exhibitions have a long way to go compared to evolved markets of Europe and USA. There is need to increase marketing sophistication and organising standards for shows to ensure that exhibitions feature high on the marketers' marketing plans. The key is in delivering quality visitors," says Forster, who concludes with the observation that a convergence of exhibitions with online communities is an emerging global trend.