Baselworld closed with a predictable drop in attendance. But next year it changes and raises. Meanwhile gioiellis.com conducted a survey. The result is… ♦︎
Baselworld: beginning of the end or beginning of a new beginning? Judging by the numbers, the 2019 budget could indicate the first hypothesis. But the words of Michel Loris-Melikoff, director of the fair dedicated to watches and jewelery, point towards the second direction. One thing is certain: the next edition of Baselworld will be decisive. Taking over from Sylvie Ritter, Loris-Melikoff managed a transitional Baselworld in nine months. But the decisive test will be that of 2020.
And it won’t be easy: the survey on the field of gioiellis.com sees disgruntled operators prevail. But even this was predictable.
The numbers of Baselworld
The numbers of Baselworld 2019 are merciless: 520 exhibitors (-20%, and a few years ago were almost 2,000), visitors 81,200 (-22%). A lower decrease, however, for journalists: 3,300 (-12%). It is clear that a further contraction could be the thank-you for a fair that is at a loss, as admitted by the organizing company itself. Also because companies that have been the cornerstones, like the Swatch Group, which has brands like Omega, Longines or Blancpain, have already said that they do not plan to return to Basel. And great jewelery houses like de Grisogono and Pasquale Bruni, have decided to follow other communication strategies.
The world changes
Let’s be clear: the main criticisms of companies to the company that organizes Baselworld, Mch Group, are the high costs associated with the exhibition aspect. But the crisis of the Swiss fair cannot be attributed to this alone. There are aspects that Baselworld is not responsible for: the overwhelming transformation of the economy following digitization, for example. Internet, with websites, e-commerce, Instagram, is a simple way for companies to get in touch with their references, buyers and end customers. Geopolitical tensions, such as the war between the US and China, the Brexit, the wars in the Middle East, do not depend on Baselworld, but affect the strategies of companies, even those of jewelry. In short, the market has changed in just a few years. And we must learn to accept the new reality.
How will Baselworld react to all this? Loris-Melikoff explained at the final press conference. His is a vision of great breadth, so much so that with a play on words someone started jokingly to call him Megaloff. If he succeeds, though, Loris-Melikoff will have had the merit of reviving an event that has a dangerous high fever.
As mentioned, the internet (and gioiellis.com is a perfect testimony), is a great sea in which to fish content, even commercial. This is why management wants to transform Baselworld into a digital communication platform that serves to interact with dealers, collectors and journalists throughout the year. In short, a perennial Baselworld, which is added to the week of the fair. A service, via app, of e-concierge for the week of the fair will also be introduced.
Hall 2 returns
Next year the new layout will be repeated, with the expansion of the catering offer and a wider multimedia center, the stage for presentations and fashion shows, as well as a better hospitality program in agreement with hotels in Basel. Objective: to convince them to lower prices. Not only: Hall 2 will be restored, which remained closed this year. It will also host a section dedicated to smartwatches: a market segment that Baselworld can no longer afford to ignore.
The most criticized aspect by companies is the excessive cost of booths. Loris-Melikoff promised a 10-20% reduction. In addition, a service will be made available for the construction of the exhibition areas.
Next year Baselworld will take place from April 30th to May 5th, immediately after the Geneva watch fair: the idea of the two fairs is to team up (Switzerland) and help those who have to make a long journey. But there are no perfect dates, admitted the director of Baselworld, when they pointed out that this period overlaps with the Ramadan of the Muslims.
The poll by gioiellis.com
What do the operators of the new Baselworld think in a reduced format? We turned the question to 47 exhibitors from the jewelery world (most preferred to remain anonymous). In short: a mixture of dissatisfaction and frustration prevailed, with so much nostalgia for Baselworld a few years ago. Judgments divided on the fashion shows: many criticized the models’ clothing, which did not enhance the jewels worn.
But not everyone expressed a negative opinion: some brands, like Sutra and Yoko London, to name just two, expressed satisfaction.
Total jewelers questioned 47
Very dissatisfied 13
Partially dissatisfied 20
Uncertain judgment 2
Positive judgment 12