Are the digital world and the "Natural & Organic Cosmetics Fair" Vivaness coming together?
The annual meeting in Nuremberg for the world’s leading organic trade fair is a matter of course for the natural and organic cosmetics industry. But events of this magnitude were not yet feasible in Germany in February 2021. Therefore, the fair management got creative and went online with an E-Special of the Vivaness.
This year, 13,800 participants from 136 countries registered for the online version of the Biofach-Vivaness. One hundred five exhibitors from the natural and organic cosmetics sector represented their companies. This total corresponds to about one third of last year’s visitor and exhibitor numbers. However, considering the unfamiliar format and the travel restrictions, I find this to be a remarkable result.
An Excursion into the Virtual Space of the Vivaness Natural & Organic Cosmetics Fair
The E-Special of Vivaness
As in previous years, the Vivaness “Natural and Organic Cosmetics Trade Fair” gave visitors a basic orientation at the beginning. But instead of walking through exhibition halls armed with plans, the task now was to get an overview of the internal website and explore its functions.
In doing so the following two aspects emerged for me.
Trade fairs online versus local: what things did not work?
Personal contacts and sensory perceptions are indispensable at a natural and organic cosmetics fair:
- walking through the halls
- meeting familiar faces, making new contacts and discovering products was possible but incomparable
- feeling and smelling products,
- being delighted, after seemingly endless aisles through the organic food halls, to have finally arrived in the natural cosmetics paradise: the hall dedicated solely to natural and organic cosmetics …
The multi-sensory aspect of Vivaness is, alas, not yet available online. Only the feeling of finally having arrived at a natural cosmetics arena after a long search remained unchanged.
Trade fairs online versus local: what worked very well?
On the other hand, the other, particularly important function of the natural and organic cosmetics fair as a place for information, presentation and the initiation of business relationships, can be realised very well online.
This means that the Vivaness “Natural & Organic Cosmetics Fair” still gives presenters the chance:
- to present themselves as a brand, association, or country
- to be seen
- to exchange ideas with interested potential customers and business partners,
- to write orders
- to be inspired and learn about new trends
- to attend lectures and discussions on current topics
- to marvel at the parade of new products and vote for the favourites among them….
All this made the Vivaness E-Special ‘virtually’ wonderful!
Personal Impressions of The Vivaness 2021 E-Special
How the E-Special of Vivaness were set up
I found the option of logging in before the start of Vivaness immensely helpful. This gave me time to set up my visitor profile and find my way around.
On the website of the E-Special, participants and organisers could be found with their profiles and virtual information points. In the menu item right next to this, one could browse through the products and product innovations. The search functions and filters were helpful in discovering them. There is certainly room for improvement in the finer details like the functionality of the search options. The capacity of the site also often reached its limits. But with a little patience, I was able to find everything I was looking for. For example, I was able to explore the multitude of new, solid natural cosmetic products. Even if the exploration was only theoretical, it still gave me new insights.
In contrast, the congress attached to Vivaness, with its lectures, discussion rounds and exhibitors’ events, went almost perfectly. This year’s congress clearly benefited from the Vivaness E-Special. The events were always visible and easily accessible as the first menu item. It became truly clear that such congresses can be optimally organised online and with the added benefit of a lower environmental impact.
Natural and Organic Cosmetics Fairs, Local or Digital? What is Next?
The E-Special of Vivaness successfully brought the natural and organic cosmetics industry together online. This year it was exactly the right solution. However, for many trade fair participants, especially in Germany, digital events are still uncharted territory.
That said, the Vivaness E-special was highly successful! I think the implementation in the online format was a courageous and pioneering decision.
For me, it became clear that the hustle and bustle of the three-day trade fair modelled on the local Vivaness cannot be replicated online. In my opinion, the online trade fair programme was overwhelming. I realised very quickly that my attention span at the computer is shorter than at a “flesh and blood” event, such as the classic Vivaness. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to miss a thing. But the lack of physical movement and variety of the local Vivaness, coupled with the distractions of the familiar working environment created an interesting challenge. Online events have their own rules and requirements.
Local trade fairs, on the other hand, tick differently.
The physical experience of a local natural cosmetics fair is entirely focused on the moment and “being there”. All the senses are engaged. Seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting are still tied to the place we inhabit. Interpersonal encounters also have a different quality. We want to experience as much as possible in the time and place of the natural cosmetics fair. This is what makes local, in-person fairs special events. I am sure that we will plan and enjoy them much more consciously in the future.
In contrast, at a digital natural cosmetics fair, we are virtually on the computer, but physically in our familiar surroundings. This makes the virtual world of the fair part of our normal daily routine. For physical and mental balance, however, we need a balance to the virtual world and not another temptation to sit non-stop at the computer.
From my point of view, a virtual trade fair should be a permanently option so that one can fit a visit to the fair into rhythm of one’s life. In this way, the digital natural cosmetics fair can become an optimal supplement to local fairs.
This is the approach I am taking with Authentic Eco – the permanent digital fair for natural and organic cosmetics.
In this year’s exceptional situation, the E-Special was a successful alternative to the Vivaness in the Nuremberg exhibition halls. We can look forward to seeing how the world of natural and organic cosmetics fairs will be shaped and organised in the future. The first step has been taken.