Guest Blog: Suzanne Malhotra, 4D- What I have learned from 16 years at MWC 2017

Suzy Headshot[223760]2017 marked my 16th year as a creative strategist attending and working at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Providing consultancy for exhibitions and brand experiences that embrace technology led solutions has always been a highlight of my year – and a challenge. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over 16 years of being involved with the show and where I expect to see brands focus their attention in 2018.

Death of the demo pod

This has emerged as a theme over the past few years, yet was adopted by more and more brands at this year’s show. The stands at MWC are no longer static product demonstrations areas – they are places that breed new experiences. Visitors who attend expect these experiences and are looking towards brands who can deliver insights in new and exciting ways. You could see this in the way different exhibitors showcased the rise of 5G and what this meant for their audience. Whether it was through an interactive presentation, a gaming element, a live launch or a virtual insight into 5G, it was the experience that led the way, not the demonstration.

 

Creating stand success

Over the years this is something I have noticed on smaller stands. With larger stands at the show, your Nokias and your Intels, it’s easy to see and quantify if the stand was a success. How can this be done on a much smaller scale?

To take a new Swedish trend, it appears to be all about finding “Lagom” which means “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right”. A stand needs to have all of the individual elements that contribute to success. It needs the right design that makes navigation easy, the right amount of interaction vs independent exploration, the right people and the right amount of design cues and experiences that create memorability. With the right amount of everything, you should see both exhibitor and guest smiling and enjoying the show, thereby quantifying true MWC success.

 

The festival effect

 

MWC is a platform for emerging forces that are changing our lives; the Internet of Things, mobile devices, big data and so on. These forces are creating hyper-personalised, hyper-efficient lives for the everyday consumer. A show that is depicting such trends should surely be able to mirror them too?

Something which emerged at MWC 2017, but will surely take hold for 2018 and subsequent years, is a more flexible, festival-esque show. By that I mean a show that adapts and changes, providing unique opportunities to visitors based on interests and level of buying power.

Take our client ENEA as an example – their stand used dynamic lighting and visuals so that by day it could be a business area, yet by night it could transform into the ‘Polar Mingle Party’, which spilled out from the stand into the walkways beyond. Stands and exhibitors must be able to adapt and offer these personalised experiences, much like those seen at a festival, if they are to retain visitor interest and create the feeling of togetherness we so crave as humans.

 

The after show effect

Something people often fail to consider at MWC is what is the after effect? Were people excited? Are people following up now and does the legacy of what happened at the show live on? We can all discuss the trends and experiences at the show, but if these don’t lead to quantifiable business results and a real effect, then exhibiting at the show is not worth much at all. We are now seeing many brands invest in pre-, during- and post-show strategies that account for the various stages. Attempting to look beyond the show itself into how these experiences actually effect the buyer and their future journey as part of the brand’s success.
The success of MWC as a show and the reason for its longevity which has allowed me to work there for more than 16 years,  all comes down to the joint success between organiser, exhibitor and visitor. This has been led by design, technology, something new and real value provided at the show. It is, in fact, one of the only shows that hasn’t lost its value over the years thanks to the exhibitors and brands who place it fore and front of mind for displaying innovation. I look forward to being an active participant again in 2018.

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