Around 200 exhibitors showcased their products, services and offerings at this year’s Madex/Markex exhibition, and what diversity was on display.
From chocolates, balloons and a virtual reality activation, to more traditional products such as caps, T-shirts and bags, the range of branded marketing options was astonishing.
“There’s a different vibe at the event from last year. All the exhibitors have really made a great effort in terms of making the show look as best as possible, and also to create a vibe on the floor with their stands,” commented the event’s director, Nick Sarnadas.
Three noticeable differences
Having attended last year’s gathering, there were three noticeable differences this year at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Firstly, Markex and Madex were kept totally separate. Those attending signed up for one or the other. “We marketed Markex purely to resellers, so no end user or marketing decision maker was communicated to about Markex. They were communicated to only about Madex,” said Sarnadas.
He added that this was done “to put Madex on the map as its own brand and for the visitor to recognise that brand”.
Secondly, the two speaking areas were packed to capacity for almost every session throughout the two days (they ran from 09:00 to 17:00), with large crowds of people standing outside the doors trying and see the presentations. Even though the number of seats doubled from last year, the speaking areas were far oversubscribed, something which some people may view as a big problem.
Thirdly, every attendee this year had to pay an entrance fee. “If the marketing decision maker was not prepared to pay R50 at the door, then how serious are they in coming to the show. By paying, they are showing they are committed to engaging with what we have on the floor and with the content,” explained Sarnadas.
Technological advances changing the face of marketing
Asked to identify the biggest trends in marketing in South Africa right now, Sarnadas named the rise of virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and digital taking away from traditional above-the-line as areas to watch. “Marketing companies are using VR a lot more, including virtual showrooms. AI is the big one, and how it’s being managed by communication channels,” he added.
He also explained how, particularly in retail, consumers were still visiting physical stores but only to browse. They then make their purchases via digital platforms.
“People want to taste, touch, engage, and see. As much as people know they can purchase products in a brick and mortar store, they are using these stores to fully interact with the products, something they can’t do online… There’s still very much a need for a face to face engagement,” he elaborated.
Here are some photos from the event: