Ideas, tips and reports about event display construction and management

Japan Shop 2012

by welkamro

What do German people think, when they hear about exhibitions? Big, crowded halls full of visitors? Sweating people with shirts printed full of advertisement? Loud and intrusive hostesses?
Well, probably they would think of all three situations. As far as I am concerned, I am also thinking about these stereotypes, so I went to Japan. Maybe here, 9000 kilometres away from good old germany, exibitions work different.

First I expected the worst: No exhibition can ever be as full as the centre of Shibuya (Tokyo) – to every time of the day.
The „Japan Shop“ Trade Show, which settles down every year in the big, magnificent „Big Sight“ building in Tokyo, shows japanese businessmen what they REALLY need in their shop windows: colourful, lightning plastic-flowers, walls with circulating water inside and flashing signs. If you need something for your shop-requirement, you´ll find it there. No wonder, that most people are starring with big eyes at those flashy inventions.

The visitors are mostly suit-wearing businessmen, so when I went in with my jeans, I think I got some (negative) attention. To get in, you´ll have to show your business card at the entrance. There, you´ll see lots of signs, request you not to take any photos or doing phone calls during your stay at the exhibition.
That's the point where I realized one interesting common between german and japanese visitors: Both of them ignore that kind of signs very consequently.
Even though there is an assistant, whose only job is to carry a sign through the halls, remembering the people what they don´t have to do – nobody seems to be interested in. As soon as he passed by, everyone put out his camera or cellphone.

But the biggest, and, in my opinion, astonishing difference is: there is no big crowd of people and no jostle. Remember: this exhibition is located in Tokyo !
When I remember my visit at the book fair in Frankfurt last year, where I was being shoved by the crowd, you have a lot of space here. But, like I said before, the target group of this trade are businessmen, not consumers.

The whole hall for this trade is much smaller than people in germay are accustomed to. There, you have to squeeze through many, huge halls. The „Japan Shop“ Trade has only got a half one. The other half is used by another trade, the „Architecture & Construction Materials“.
So that there is no confusion anyway, the hall is exactly split up into two parts: a red (Japan Shop) and a green one (Architecture & Construction).
Even the carpet on the floor is exactly split up into two at the middle of the hall.(You can see it on the photo).
So, theoretically, you can stay at two trades at the same time.

Every single stall employs, like in Germany, it's own hostess to attract the visitors to their products. In Germany, after ten minutes your bag would weigh a barrel, if you took every single booklet the importnity hostesses tries to hand out to you.

In Japan, things work nearly in the same way. Gaijins (people from foreign countries) like me are mostley spared from these tons of printed paper, but japanese visitors have to take lots of flyers as soon as they show only a piece of interest in the stall.

When I looked at the hostesses (most of them are female), the first question that came into my mind was: How short can a skirt be? I think, this is one of the most important rules for japanese trade shows: The stall with the short-skirted-hostess is the stall with the most visitors.
In Germany, you often see some part-time working students at the stalls, most of them clothed in honestly business-suits.
In Japan, you see some girls with short skirts, high boots and extravagant hairstyles – as if they just jump out of a japanese manga-comic.
The japanese business is dominated by men, so, in my opinion, the idea of getting some generous girls for your stall is quite cleverly. I mean, which men could say „no“ if there is such a friendly girl, giving you lots of booklets?

The booklets are also quite different from the german ones. In Germany, you´ll see lots of photos, combined with typical standard advertising-text. In Japan, you´ll often see some manga-comics in booklets and flyer, discribing figurative, why this product is so important. In Germany, people would probably be confused about that, but here in the far east, mangas are quite popular and part of the peoples everyday life.

Japanese stalls have lots of different designs: Some are quite elegant and monochromatic, some of them looks like little discotheques with lots of colourful LED-lights. Every company wants to get the attention of the people in another way.
An important rule for japanese business: LIGHTS!
If you ever walked through Tokyo at night, you´ll know what I mean: garish and colourful lights everywhere. You´ll have to be careful not to get an epileptic shock.
So, if a business don´t have enough bright signs on their building, nobody will realize it.

You can see in every detail, that japanese companies, like german companies too, spend lots of work and money in their trade stalls. That shows, that trade-shows are getting quite important for the japanese economy.

So, these are my first impressions of the „Japan Shop“ trade show 2012. I still realized, that there are lots of things you can discover, if you really want to. So, I´m quite curious for the next trade shows.

the Welkam boys Kojichu, Japanese for 'under construction,' is an ongoing notebook of ideas, tips and discoverys we've picked up over the years building displays and managing events around the world.

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