NXT Exclusive Interview with, Dirk Koslowski, Director of IFA Berlin

From 2016 to 2018, CE China, a global IFA event, took place in Shenzhen in May, but in 2019 the consumer electronics trade show will move to the Guangzhou Poly World Trade Center Expo in the mega-city of Guangzhou from 19 to 21 September 2019. NXT recently spoke to Dirk Koslowski, the Director of IFA Berlin, on the reasons behind the change in location and how it will further enhance European electronics brands, such as Sennheiser and Bosch, in the huge Chinese domestic market.

Dirk Koslowski

Dirk Koslowski: Hi, my name is Dirk Koslowski and I’ve been the Director of IFA since 2006.

NXT: Hi Dirk, can you speak of how CE China has evolved over the last few years?

DK: Three years ago we started our Chinese operations and it has been a very successful and effective launch pad for the first three years in a row at Shenzhen. Together with our retail partners Suning and TMall/Alibaba, we invited industry people from all over the world, including Western brands, to showcase their expertise. What we learned over the three years was that the timing of our events in March and April was not the best months to serve the retail in the most effective way because the business and holiday seasons for people in China is mostly in the summertime with the peak period ending just before ‘double 11’ or the 11th of November (11/11) which is Singles Day, the largest online and offline shopping day in the world.

So we thought twice about our show dates and we decided, starting this year to move to Guangzhou, a very traditional city for trade shows in China, and to adapt the timing itself to run CE China just two weeks after IFA (in Berlin) with the concept to bring most of the news, most of the new products and technologies to the Chinese and Asian markets.

Guangzhou is a super-modern city and a historic trading hub and gateway to China. It’s also home to thousands of Consumer and Home Electronics manufacturers and can be reached conveniently by direct flight from Europe and the US.

NXT: So you would be able to have your European clients bring their just-launched products direct from IFA to CE China?

DK: Yes, there’s no time-loop and that’s really our intention – to bring the hottest stuff from Europe right to the Chinese market and explain to Chinese customers what’s new on the market, why it’s innovative, what’s the new technology and how fits their lifestyle.

NXT: Conversely, would the news of major European brands being showcased in CE China bring more international coverage to Chinese brands participating in CE China?

DK: Honestly its for both sides. For Western brands entering the Chinese markets or giving their products that are entering the Chinese and Pan-Asian markets a different form of exposure, and for Chinese brands to use our marketing and communication activities and media tools to give their brand a better exposure and be more visibility in the European and American markets.

NXT: How was the feedback for the first three years of CE China?

DK: We had good feedback from our Chinese retail partners. Suning, a major Chinese brick and mortar store is collaborating with us again for the upcoming shows and is highly interested in being integrated and embedded into our IFA retail university again.

In our first IFA Retail University, a Global Event which took place at CE China 2018, international brands exhibiting at IFA and CE China had the opportunity to present their products and marketing strategies to approximately 400 to 500 Asian retail representatives on how they’re upselling their products in Europe, and this educates Chinease retailers and helps to create brand awareness and sales in East Asia.

Dirk Koslowski

NXT: For say, a small startup consumer electronics company from South East Asia – how would exhibiting at CE China help them get into the Chinese domestic market?

DK: As long as you are able and willing to expose your brand and technology to a broad variety of clients, we surely can be of great help on this.

NXT: We’ve already seen major Chinese brands such as TCL, Hisense, Lenovo and Huawei moving out of China and become big international brand names, but they are of course just the tip of a massive Chinese domestic iceberg. Have you seen participating Chinese brands grow with you as they participate in CE China over the last three years?

DK: I see us as a little like an incubator. During the CE China show, we get a lot of sneak previews of new products and we can cherry-pick some innovative companies that we will bring to the next IFA to show the Europeans what’s in store. In a way, that’s why we created IFA NEXT, that’s our R&D hub and incubator where we can showcase these types of companies.

IFA NEXT is an annual global innovation hub at IFA that will bring together researchers, industry professionals, start-ups and retailers for a dynamic transfer of knowledge, information and business ideas.

We are working on an IFA NEXT area at CE China 2019 as well. It just makes good sense.