As industries and economies around the world look for opportunities to rebuild businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Informa Markets, a global organizer who creates platforms for a wide range of industries to trade, connect, and grow, launched MAGIC Pop-Up Orlando from February 9-11 at the Orange County Convention Center. The ‘Pop-Up’ was a comprehensive one-stop-shop opportunity for various segments of the fashion industry, one of the many that were hit hard by the pandemic’s devastating economic impact, to discover new brands, safely network with like-minded retailers, and generate much-needed revenue.
Retailers and Consumer Desire In-Person Events
Informa Markets Fashion surveyed customers in late 2020 to identify how best to fulfill the needs of the fashion community. The answer was a resounding desire from both brands and retailers alike to return to the show floor in Q1 2021, a critical buying time for the fashion industry. In response, Informa Markets moved forward with a hybrid approach, launching an online marketplace, MAGIC Digital, alongside a physical event in Orlando. While the organization believes strongly in the virtual format as a powerful complementary tool and a long-term twin engine for their 450+ brands, interest in the physical event exceeded their expectations, recording an astounding 40 percent more registrations than anticipated for the Orlando show.
“The fashion industry is a very tactile one,” said Kelly Helfman, Commercial President, Informa Markets Fashion. “Buyers need to see and feel fabrics. While digital is an incredible tool to maintain connectivity, and help qualify buying trends, the power of face-to-face will always be important — in-person interactions are really not replicable in a digital format. While data can help guide decision making, qualifying suppliers with potential customers isn’t just a one-click experience — it requires deep understanding and relationship building in most cases. The past year has proven more than ever the true value of human connection, and we’ve seen that reflected by the enthusiasm for, and success of, this event.”
Here are some important data points and statistics from this trade show:
- There was a 16 percent increase in retail buyer attendance than originally anticipated for this show, which was joined by hundreds of exhibiting brands across women’s trend apparel and footwear
- 45 percent of purchasing retailers were new to the show
- 74 percent of retail respondents who came to shop multiple categories were satisfied or strongly satisfied, demonstrating category breadth, despite a more curated version of traditional, larger scale events
- There was a focused interest from retailers to shop women’s (87%) categories, with a specific concentration in shopping apparel (79%)
- 80 percent of attendees surveyed reported satisfaction at being able to meet current vendors and 76 percent reported satisfaction at being able to meet new vendors
- Similarly, over half of exhibiting brands expressed satisfaction in the ability to meet new clients and almost ¾ of brands surveyed felt they made a new connection onsite that could lead to a new business relationship in the future
Safety is a Number One Priority
While industries and local economies are eagerly looking for opportunities to recover, safety remains a core foundational element of Informa Markets’ return to the show floor. Informa helped spearhead an industry-wide approach to safety at trade events, known as the All Secure Standard, which provides guidelines to ensure safety is prioritized at all trade events.
The Standard was a collaborative effort that has been adopted across the majority of global trade show organizers with the support of events industry associations and key partners and has been objectively vetted by a team of medical experts. At MAGIC Pop-Up Orlando those guidelines came to life through open concept booths, widened aisles, 100+ hand sanitizing units and safety ambassadors, as well as mandatory mask-wearing, temperature screenings, and most notably, evidence of a negative COVID-19 test to enter the show floor — the first show of its kind to employ onsite testing in support of visitor safety.
In the weeks after enhanced safety measures, including testing, were announced, MAGIC Orlando registrations soared, signaling that communities are eager to return to the show floor, when both their safety and success are prioritized. While a testing requirement may not be necessary moving forward, Informa Markets sees a continued effort toward targeting qualified audiences and rigorous safety measures as a dual engine in driving economic recovery, not just for the trade show industry, but for the industries and communities they serve and the cities that host their events.
“Our events are platforms to rebuild and re-invigorate industries,” said Nancy Walsh, President, North America, Informa Markets. “They serve a really important role in relationship building, in discovering innovation, and in revenue-driving for the communities they serve, especially when done in a safe and controlled way. That’s not just the Fashion community that this event served, but communities spanning across Health & Nutrition, Brand Licensing, Construction, Aviation, and more. Almost every industry has been impacted by the pandemic, and our customers, many of whom are small business owners, truly believe these platforms are more critical than ever before.”