Is there room for more niche trade shows in the print industry? Spread the load; there's room for all
What do you think?
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By Sophie Matthews-Paul
18 October 2011
Edible ink-jet is just one example of a niche market segment
For more than a decade everyone involved or interested in wide-format digital print has been catered for by specialist trade exhibitions targeting what has been, without doubt, the fastest growing sector in graphic arts, certainly in my lifetime. Industry shows provide tremendous opportunities for housing every manufacturer and supplier under one roof, bringing a welcomed solidarity and familiarity to the digital sector. We see a wealth of solutions and peripherals and, more often than not, there are offshoots of seminars and summits to add into the mix.
However, digital production extends well beyond the parameters of graphic arts and sign-making; although niche sectors can be catered for at a main trade show, it's becoming increasingly apparent that other industries and segments need their own space. There are specialist conferences that do sterling work in covering the more heavyweight topics of ink-jet, with glimpses into future developments away from the more conventional aspects of technology and into deeper waters. And, because there is an increasing amount to digest, other event organisers now also want to bring something new, and complementary, to the party.
Currently we're seeing a more diverse bunch of industries investigating and employing familiar technologies in different areas, so it's clear that there isn't a definitive platform where manufacturers and developers can join together under one umbrella and exhibit. It's all grown too big and disparate. Taking ink-jet as the obvious example, this is because jetting capabilities go way beyond the parameters of pushing ink through nozzles to produce a pretty picture. The same principle applies to green issues in technological and user terms. People and organisations need to know more and share their needs and their knowledge in a tailored and structured dedicated environment.
Because of the diversity of ink-jet and its digital counterparts, a different breed of company and user is now showing interest in broadcasting developments on the one hand, and learning about them on the other. Trying to embrace an entirely new audience from industries, about which most of us involved in print are probably pretty ignorant, is a daunting task. By concentrating on trying to cater for everyone, there's the danger that the load will be spread too thinly, thus compromising the core competencies of the host organisation.
Our current portfolio of exhibitions serves our industries extremely well but surely there is room for additional specialist events that don't look to compete with existing platforms. Rather, they would provide the route to the more specific aspects of development and the technologies which are involved in all sorts of industrial and commercial products we might already use today and most certainly will tomorrow.
Click here to read Laurel Brunner's response to the Question of the Week, Is there room for more niche trade shows in the print industry? What do you think? Use the comments form below to give your opinion.
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