September 8, 2021
Messe Frankfurt’s Eva Olbrich offers tips for the busy shopping season

Eva Olbrich, director for Christmasworld and Creativeworld, Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH, is responsible for two strong product worlds that are also moving closer together in the trade. In this interview, she shares her expertise for the preparations for the strongest-selling and most emotional time of the year.

What creative trends have you seen in 2021 that you think will be popular this Christmas?

Eva Olbrich (EO): It is very obvious that DIY experienced another boom during Corona. Do-it-yourself is more in vogue than ever before, people had time again for beautiful and creative things. The topic of sustainability has also gained in importance.

Interesting DIY trends that are also appropriate for Christmas are homemade and personalized wrapping paper and packaging, through batik or the Japanese variant shibori, which also works on paper.

In addition, screen printing is experiencing a renaissance. Lettering and Christmas motifs can be printed on a wide variety of surfaces: for postcards, but also napkins or tablecloths. Complete sets for crochet, embroidery patterns, handlettering sets, including instructions or printing sets, can be offered as gift ideas. It is also very trendy to make your own paints, for which there are also complete sets that enrich the range.

What trends do you see in festive decoration?

EO: “Blackboard baubles,” which can be designed with chalk, add your own touch to the Christmas tree. Balls made of glass, ceramic or cardboard can be individualized with pens. Glass baubles that you can fill yourself with natural twigs, moss or feathers are also a trend and set sustainable accents. Or bring real Christmas trees into the shop, hang them upside down for the presentation of goods in the shop or in the shop window – this is an absolute eye-catcher and attracts customers.

Nature plays a big role in the decoration: dried orange peels can be cut out with Christmas biscuit shapes and make a beautiful table or window decoration.

What are your tips for small retailers who want to enter new product lines this Christmas?

EO: The desire for a sustainable lifestyle is currently greater than ever – also take this trend into account when putting together your assortment. Put your Christmas shop under a motto. For example, “Green X-Mas” or “Merry, Sustainable Christmas.” Decorate everything with natural materials, without plastic only with glass, ceramics, wood, felt or similar ornaments.

The new lines can be promoted through appealing window dressing. Remember, customers want to feel products again, try them out and fire their creativity in the process. The shop window is your flagship. Advertise your promotions there. Put a Christmas tree in the window with self-designed baubles and offer assistance in the shop for the creative design of the baubles. Show how to make other ornaments. Show what you can do! Show your strength and your competence.

What are the best ways to reach customers and inform them about these innovations?

EO: If you want to introduce new product lines, you have to know them well and be able to offer customers competent advice.

The motto “customer loyalty through community and community building” is relevant. Workshops on the new products, which can be promoted by postcards, flyers and via social media, are ideal for this. The workshops can be conducted by your own dedicated staff, or influencers can be engaged. Workshop topics could be: Making your own Christmas decorations or candles, up-cycling Christmas decorations, getting creative with paper, felt and fabrics. Position yourself as a good advisor.

How far in advance do you think preparations for Christmas should start?

EO: In these special times, people start decorating for Christmas much earlier than usual, because they long for a cozy Christmas time with the family. Retailers should start decorating indoors and outdoors from the beginning of November at the latest.

The key word for the Christmas season is “emotionalization,” because this remains the decisive success factor between stationery trade and online trade. Create attention-grabbing themed worlds and presentations that appeal to all the senses and, above all, suit your business. And combine your on-site services with digital offers, because consumer shopping already begins at home. Announce promotions not only in-store, but also in advance via your social channels.

The number of younger people interested in DIY has risen sharply. How can small businesses appeal to this age group and at the same time retain the customers of the older generation?

EO: Authentic and competent advice is important. Handlettering is still in demand across generations. But a range of products such as Christmas tree baubles with Star Wars motifs or emojis also attract young people to the shop. Crochet and knitting are popular with young and old and should appear in the assortment. The younger generation can be reached well via social media channels. To reach both target groups equally, a mix of workshops, live actions in the shop and social media is probably the best solution.

Do you predict that sustainability will be a key expectation for small retailers when it comes to Christmas packaging? How can businesses show their customers that they care about the planet?

EO: The themes around sustainability such as recycling, DIY, repairing and second-hand will be with us for a long time to come, according to our trend experts from the style agency Stilbüro bora.herke.palmisano, who develop the Christmasworld, Paperworld and Creativeworld trends for us.

It is definitely worth starting with small steps. What is particularly noticeable in a positive way is when you do without superfluous packaging and plastic. Or if you offer packaging and ribbons made from recycled materials and use them yourself. In addition, offering regional producers is a sign of sustainable action. This can also be advertised in the shop window. A bicycle rack in front of the shop is a statement. Look for a selected range of sustainable products (papers, paints, stars, decorations, etc.). The theme is also becoming more visible at our trade fairs.

2022 Trade Fairs

Christmasworld, Creativeworld and Paperworld will once again offer the consumer-goods sector the long-awaited physical trade-fair experience. The three international consumer-goods trade fairs will be held again as usual in 2022:

  • Christmasworld: Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2022
  • Creativeworld and Paperworld: Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2022.

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