Setting Course for Success

IFA Executive Director and Messe Berlin Vice-President Jens Heithecker – on this year’s CE China event

How is CE China progressing and what will be new this year? We put the question to “the man at the helm”.

Two years ago, we established CE China and we knew right from the start that we had a completely different focus to any other show, and that it would be a long way. At the same time, we told you CE China is not a copy of IFA. It’s not a copy in terms of size, it’s not a copy by name, nor by other points. It is however a prolongation of IFA for the Chinese market. This year, we will have the same size as last year – one large hall at the Shenzhen exhibition centre. And we are proud that we have been able to fill it with more western brands than before, but even more Chinese brands. It means we focus on quality, because CE China for us means being different to any other show – being a highquality show with a high efficiency rate. Talking about efficiency, that’s where there is the biggest difference to last year, we are introducing a new format, called CE China Retail University. It has a clear intention. We learned that Chinese retail is not so familiar on the one hand with the real brand stories, with the real product backgrounds of the brand industry. And on the other, we learned that the contact the brand industry has with the individual retailers is not the closest because it’s such a huge country. So, we introduced a format like the briefings we already developed for other events at IFA. We introduced this in China with a focus of the largest retailer, Suning, bringing in more than 500 retailers from stores around China, and on the other side, the brands will have the opportunity, in a short presentation, to say what they stand for, and how the retail can be successful with them. That’s what we mean with efficiency, bringing into contact, in the best way, the Chinese retail with the western industry.

What else differentiates this show?

Compared to big shows in China, it’s the clear focus and smaller size. You have some huge shows. But these are in part political shows. We are a commercial show only. We are organised by western organisers with no political influence, but we come in with our experience from Berlin, how to organise a successful business case for our exhibitors and for the retailers, even if the size is small. It’s about being relevant for the main actors in the market, and not having the biggest size.


Just a few years ago, you were only operating a show in Europe, but now you work in China, and also this year in the USA. What’s the philosophy of Messe Berlin with regard to entering other markets such as this?

We changed our strategy a few years ago from being the European IFA to being the Global IFA. That means not only we are in close contact with the industry and headquarters around the world; it means also that we are in close contact with retailers and that we understand the most important global markets. That’s why we went to China – the largest single market in the world, and we built-up a network we never had before – getting networked with retailers, getting networked with top management of the retailer, with the top management of the industry, and not to underestimate it, getting to understand the differences of the market in China compared to Europe and the rest of the world. If you want to be a global show, you must understand the most important global markets. This understanding helps us quite a lot for IFA in Berlin. We can help out the industry and retail in China with our knowledge, and start to transfer this knowledge to China, we have a successful business case in the future.

Photo: Jens Heithecker – IFA Executive Director & Messe Berlin Vice-President