Kids In A Candy Store!

What is new at the Interzoo?

The industry is preparing for its main bi-annual event: the Interzoo in Nuremberg!

Some of us will go there as exhibitors, others as visitors.

And all of us will see an offer which will be again unprecedented in the history of the industry.

The real challenge – for exhibitors and visitors alike - will be: how to absorb this enormous amount of information while separating chaff from wheat? Those visitors who have prepared themselves for the exhibition by focussing on a certain product-category or by having a list of must see's and must do's will find being at the show more relaxing than those that go unprepared; the latter will be so surprised that they may go home slightly disappointed, concluding "I didn't see anything really new!"

Is that why people visit the exhibition: to find and see new and exiting? New can be new for the industry, or just for the visitor. New can be a minor alteration to an already well-known theme. Is that enough to get exited or does one expect a genuine breakthrough which will significantly change the life of the animal, its owner or both?

And to which extent do visitors take new trends in demographics, in the human/animal relationship, in human lifestyle into consideration. Or should I ask, does the industry do so?

Will we see easy to carry – by elderly people - bags of dogfood; will we see fresh prepared cat meals for the affluent dinky's; will we see ...............?

The list of examples can be a long one. But I fear that the list of affirmations will be sensitively shorter.

And of course we must make a clear division between a hype and a trend. If something is extremely fashionable for a very short period of time and shared by a great number of animal-owners you can of course smell the business opportunity. That's what hypes are for! However, the second container you ship in from a low-cost country may already arrive too late: the hype is gone!

We all tend to look at trends as something that happens to us, as something we can or must react to. But somebody or something else provides the stimulus: the trend. How do these trends emerge? In the case of demographics they tend to grow over a longer period of time; the greying society is a.o. the result of healthier living and more developed life-sciences. Other trends – such as life-style – only take a short period to become influential. Flower power struck us in the 60's of the last century more or less overnight. It needed only a few icons and a lot of media-attention to become the "in" thing. Which lasted long enough to make some people believe that it's still there.

Now the question is: can we create a trend ourselves, to the advantage of our business specifically or the industry in general? I think we can, with focus, dedication and commitment.

Paul Iams did so (although the genesis may have been a bit of Eureka) when he started Eukanuba, because he believed in feeding dogs (and later cats) in the best way possible, without the market having set standards for him! He set his own! There were no socio-demographic or other tangible trends that he could use as a coat-hanger. He just believed and put his barriers high! So instead of following a well-defined trend, Paul Iams created one that has lasted until today.

So, what to do with the cornucopia of products and ideas one will be overwhelmed by at the Interzoo. Select on the basis of yet small but growing trends and take a leading position in new niches or follow the main stream to avoid risk?

Choices you as the entrepreneur will have to make taking into account the kind of business you wish to run. Or will no choices be made in the end because the exhibition-euphoria is caught up by the daily worries and routine. Whatever the case may be, let the visit to Nuremberg be illuminating.

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