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Inaugural CES Asia proves show-stopping

International CES, held annually in Las Vegas, is one of the biggest and most well-known tradeshows across the globe. Owned and produced by Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), its first satellite show took place May 25-27 at Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC) in Shanghai, China, bringing with it all the gadgetry and artistry of the world’s leading U.S.-based annual innovation event.

Qualified attendees from more than 40 countries visited CES Asia, with a majority from mainland China and other Asian countries. Following the Chinese model, the three-day show included two days for trade only before opening up the final day to consumers.

Selecting Asia for its satellite show involved education and meticulous coordination for Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) according to Karen Chupka, senior vice president of International CES and corporate business strategy for CEA.

Attendees from more than 40 countries attended the inaugural satellite show in Shanghai.
Attendees from more than 40 countries attended the inaugural satellite show in Shanghai.

“Launching a new event requires extensive strategic planning and knowledge of the market. Asia is a diverse region where brands have to not only consider different working languages and styles, local laws and cultural differences, but also the different levels of development, consumer demands and standards of living,” Chupka explained. “We researched the demand for consumer electronics in the Asia-Pacific market extensively. The market is expected to see the highest growth in the near future due to increasing domestic demand from countries such as India and China.”

Additionally, CEA kept the focus on emerging areas of technologies, identifying 14 product categories for the launch of CES Asia. All exhibitors at the inaugural show were curated to ensure that only companies and products with true innovation were on display.

Chupka shared that the U.S. and Asia events were designed to complement each other. The goal for CES Asia was to provide a platform for innovative companies, both global and local, looking to break into certain facets of the Asian marketplace to do business and launch products.

“Our aim for the inaugural CES Asia was to bring the dynamic energy and innovative spirit of CES to Asia,” she said. “CES, annually held in Las Vegas, is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies, with many of the products launched intended for the global market. CES Asia is designed for products making their world debut to the Asian marketplace specifically.”

Additionally, the show featured local retailers with best practices for selling and showcasing new technologies in the Asian market particularly, according to Chupka.

Exhibiting overseas also required a different strategy for show producer CEA and U.S. exhibitors including the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), manager of the Las Vegas Convention Center where CES is held each January.

“From an appearance standpoint, a lot of components were similar to exhibitry in Las Vegas with a lot of big quality booths like automotive makers Ford and Mercedes Benz – similar to what would be seen at CES or SEMA show,” noted Chris Meyer, vice president of global business sales, LVCVA.

Raised floors differentiated the Asian version of International CES from the original U.S.-based show.
Raised floors differentiated the Asian version of International CES from the original U.S.-based show.

He added that custom stands often included raised floors requiring attendees to step into the exhibit booth, unlike typical exhibit spaces in the U.S. Compared to other Chinese tradeshows, Meyer observed the efficient layout of the CES Asia show floor, crediting the partnership between SNIEC, show owner CEA and co-producer Intex Shanghai Co., Ltd.

Also unique to exhibiting outside of the U.S. was how and where booth building took place.

“Many of the booths are built from scratch on the floor, so move-in/move-out looked more like a construction zone,” Karen Chupka commented.

Another difference was the roles of various contractors. According to Chupka, in Asia all freight was handled by the official freight forwarder versus the general contractor. As an exhibitor, LVCVA representatives experienced a stark contrast between the move-in and move-out of shows at facilities other than their own Las Vegas Convention Center.

“I’ve never seen a show move-in or move-out like that – freight forwarders lined up end-to-end and a full rush to load and unload before being marshalled out to a gigantic fairgrounds area that makes up the triangular shape of SNIEC,” Chris Meyer remarked.

The LVCVA booth, equivalent to a standard 10 x 10 space, conducted its 15th “Trade Show Trade Mission” since 2004 to promote participation and attendance to Las Vegas-based tradeshows. Exhibiting in China, the second largest producer of international attendees to shows in Las Vegas and the U.S., served as an ideal platform for international marketing opportunities, according to Meyer.

The 2016 edition of CES Asia is set return to Shanghai on May 11-13.
The 2016 edition of CES Asia is set return to Shanghai on May 11-13.

“CES Asia launched a smaller size than the mothership for its first year, but it has the potential to grow into a very large event in Shanghai,” said Meyer. “I believe CES Asia to be in incubator – it provides easy access for smaller, local companies in Asia. As it grows more successful, exhibitors may want to exhibit in Las Vegas to a global marketplace with attendees from 200 countries, and specifically Las Vegas.”

Echoing the same sentiment, Chupka voiced the association’s own aspiration to grow the two shows.

“Our hope is that industry leaders and global delegates see the value in attending both events. CEA’s mission is to grow the global consumer technology industry and our goal with CES Asia is to further the growth of the Asian CE market, and spur new business deals,” she stated. “We do expect CES Asia to grow and perhaps rival CES one day, but we believe that Asia, as a region, plays and will continue to play an important and unique role in consumer electronics trends and adoption of new technologies.”

To grow awareness of the events, CEA was able to set up VPN access for foreign journalists to have outside access as well as official CES Asia accounts on social media platforms accessible in China. While staff in Shanghai focused on posting show news on social media in addition to the organization’s website, staff at CEA headquarters in Arlington, Va., kept Facebook and Twitter followers apprised of major updates. Looking ahead to the 2016 CES Asia, CEA will aim to offer more VPN access points for international attendees, according to Chupka.

Building off the successful inaugural event, CES Asia will return to Shanghai on May 11-13, 2016.

Photo credits: LVCVA

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