There have been a number of rumours circulating around the industry about the viability of next years Odmafair. According to the executive director of ODMA, Finola Carey, she’s heard it all before and believes Australia’s largest optical trade exhibition will certainly remain the central marketing platform of the optical industry in 2009.
Carey states that while a few frame exhibitors have chosen to look at marketing avenues other than Odmafair for 2009, creating speculation on the health of the Fair within the industry, it is becoming apparent that the exhibitor base for the 17th showing will be on par with the final results of the previous event.
As of mid-August, 104 exhibitors have registered to take part in Odmafair 2009 including General Optical, Maui Jim, Hoya, Transitions, Essilor, Alcon, Johnson & Johnson, BOC, Rodenstock, Carl Zeiss, Designs for Vision, Bolle, Mimo, Matrix/Tigervision, VMD, Optique Line, Optimed, Shaan, Optical Manufacturers/ Device Technologies, Aviva, Provision, Younger Optics, Briot-Weco, Eyes Right. The bookings represent more than 70 per cent of the total 15,000m2 exhibition space over three halls at Sydney’s Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour.
Carey acknowledges the challenges faced by the industry saying: “It’s a very volatile market in optics at present – especially for frame companies, so it is somewhat surprising that some companies are not including Odmafair in the mix. It is a tried and true marketing event which supports the independent industry”.
It is a tried and true marketing event which supports the independent industry
She says it seems ironic that a few independent wholesalers would follow Safilo and Luxottica in not committing to the Fair, pointing out that Safilo – like Luxottica Retail, has been vertically integrating in the marketplace.
“It’s not a new turn of events and certainly not the biggest tremor from frame companies. Back in 1999, 12 Melbourne companies did not exhibit at Odmafair citing various reasons. All of these companies participated in the next Fair, and most continued to do so for the following four events,” says Carey.
Her thoughts are supported by many others in the industry, including Peter Lewis, Chairman of General Optical, the largest frame supplier of frames to independent optometrists in Australia and New Zealand and the largest exhibitor at Odmafair.
“Odmafair is an independent practitioner fair and is recognised as an eye to our industry. If suppliers simply look at Odmafair as just a money making opportunity they will end up suffering from myopia,” he says.
Optical Products (OP) Managing Director, Diane Quaife, says: “OP has exhibited at Odmafair from the very early days. We experimented with non-participation in 2001 but in review felt that overall Odmafair really was an integral part of the marketing mix of any independent optical wholesaler in Australia. We have exhibited ever since and will again in 2009”.
The recently appointed Managing Director of Rodenstock, Craig Chick is another Odmafair advocate and says: “Rodenstock has been a long term supporter of Odmafair because of the marketing opportunities it presents. We’ve been coming to the show for many, many years and always have great success”.
Chick believes that having a presence at the Fair is more important than the size of the presence. “We always see results in sales and continue to open new accounts at each show”.
Carey says advanced requests for exhibition space received from companies who will be new to the Fair in 2009 have escalated some 15 per cent and the response from the market overall demonstrates that while times may be tougher, many companies are maintaining or increasing their Odmafair investment to ensure they are reaching their audience.
She says the opportunities for those participating are that much greater than those not – after all, it’s well known that that the best prospects are somebody else’s customers and Odmafair will continue to draw a genuine, buying audience.
“Attracting some 6,000 trade professionals at its last staging, Odmafair remains a truly effective way to reach the majority of decision makers in the industry from all over Australia and Oceania in just three days. Rest assured – Odmafair remains in good health!” Carey insists.
Odmafair 2009 will be held from 10 to 12 July at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition in Darling Harbour. To learn more about the Fair visit www.odmafair.com.au.