Jewelry world, pay attention: VicenzaOro, the biannual jewelry tradeshow held in Vicenza, Italy, has set the date. This September edition will be the critical moment to reconnect.
However, it's not business as usual.
Amid the pandemic, it's still hard to predict how our world will look afterward. We see the big department stores in the U.S. fighting (and losing) the battle to survive. We understand how people are slowing down, revaluing their lives, work, and what is essential. We see companies at their best and their worst. Some players in our jewelry industry are trying to do good. Most of them just try to survive and deal with reality day by day. But a few names have popped up that are using this moment to behave very unethically too.
What role will jewelry play in the future? Will people even think of buying jewelry? Will we truly see revenge-buying? Or is this type of buying only in the minds of the wealthier consumer? And will they buy a famous brand rather than the many smaller brands? Will smaller brands have a future? The fear that we produce too much jewelry as it is may become more evident. (More about this soon on Bizzita)
I talked to Marco Carniello, Group Brand Director Jewellery & Fashion IEG, the organizer of the biannual VicenzaOro show about the upcoming event in September. The industry will inevitably lick its wounds, is the show counting on retailers and buyers buying as usual? Will sustainability be an even more important topic? Or, as I see it, will it be more about coming together and talking, finding understanding, feeling a connection, sharing the pain and the sorrow as much as looking ahead and inspiring each other.
Esther: First of all, I would like to know how you are. How did you experience this lockdown personally? What has proven to be the most challenging thing for you in staying home? I hope you, your loved ones, and your colleagues are safe and healthy?
Marco: I am good, thank you. I quickly adapted to the lockdown and to remote working. In fact, in Italian Exhibition Group (IEG), who organizes Vicenzaoro and is one of the main operators in the trade fair and conference sector at European level, we are quite used to working with laptops wherever we are and, thanks to digital devices, in these weeks we have shortened the distances and intensified the relationship with companies and associations through videocalls and daily meetings. Outside of work I am spending most of my time reading (at the moment a book about the future and Asia by Parag Khanna) and working out: I set up a bike on rollers on the terrace that allows me to keep up my fitness (certainly; I am not going to do a triathlon anytime soon).
Esther: The international jewelry season opens every year in January with VicenzaOro. The show in September is traditionally more focussed on seasonal sales for the winter holiday season. We assume that we will be free to travel and come and visit the show. But I think it’ll be very different this time around. The purpose of the show might be much more about reconnecting and trying to figure out the future of our industry. What do you think?
Marco: I totally agree – Vicenzaoro September 2020 will first of all be a moment of reconnection of the whole industry and a key moment of restarting. The effects of the lockdown are already noticeable, and IEG wants to support the relaunch – after all, trade fairs are "engines" of the industry. That’s why it is important to restart this engine in September, hoping to resume soon the speed we had reached with the great edition of Vicenzaoro January 2020.
Esther: The world of jewelry has always felt it should look at the world of fashion first. After the financial- and bank crisis of 2008, we noticed that flashy designs and showing off too much rapidly changed into Normcore, a more down to earth kind of fashion. Nowadays, we all have our communities online, regardless of mainstream preferences. So, we will probably see much more than just ‘’normcore fashion’’ Brands that have a loyal following and brands that share about HOW and WHERE their clothes were made are becoming key players in the eyes of consumers. I expect this will finally hit our industry too. VicenzaOro has shown together with CIBJO how sustainability may look like. What role does the show intend to play this edition, and are what are the plans beyond CIBJO’s talks to help the industry understand how to achieve this? And perhaps also create more awareness to the public and exhibitors who aren’t ‘’yet there’’ with their strategies for the upcoming years?
Marco: Just a few days ago, Giorgio Armani wrote a letter to WWD expressing the need for the fashion industry to slow down and return to the principles of the highest quality, including respect for the environment, for the work and society – simply to being "human" again. The central theme of Vicenzaoro September will be "Human Touch" because we believe it is the true spirit with which to face the new normality. I believe that the brands that will be able to communicate the values in line with this new normality, accurately and transparently, will go very far. And there are already many of those at Vicenzaoro! With CIBJO, we will, of course, continue to develop themes of interest to SMEs and small brands, to direct them towards sustainability and provide them with concrete tools - at the lowest possible cost - to help them in the process of ensuring sustainability.
Esther: I have written an article about jewelry shows and what I wanted to see in the future. VicenzaOro has achieved much of that. But can you take us into your world and show us what you think the future of jewelry shows will look like?
Marco: That would take a whole book. First of all, I am glad that many of what you hoped to see in a jewelry show, you could find in Vicenzaoro. This encourages us, and it is not by chance: It is the result of the Italian Exhibition Group’s approach: listening to the market.
For the future, we would like to see the Vicenzaoro platform being active online all year round, with the shows in Vicenza being the physical meeting points. We would like it to be a great forum where the entire supply chain finds the answers they are looking for, where supply and demand come together, where trends are created and where risks and opportunities of the industry are discussed – openly and for the benefit of our great community.
Esther: If it could be developed tomorrow, what would you like to see implemented immediately in the next show?
Marco: I must say that everything is in progress and I am delighted with the improvements already made. I would like to be able to influence consumer demand, on their positivity and their emotionality linked to the stories behind the jewelry!
Esther: The jewelry industry is struggling. Some hope on the revenge buying impulse of consumers, but this - if true- will be a short-lived trend. In any crisis, we- the jewelry industry- are among the first to suffer and among the last to emerge from it. I think that people from all parts of this industry might want to find a sense of community. Perhaps even find an atmosphere where they feel safe to acknowledge things aren’t so great (yet). What do you think?
Marco: The sense of community is precisely what we are looking to strengthen. Precisely in times of crisis and difficulty, we believe it is essential to remain "true" and to be "transparent" with everyone, including ourselves. That's why during the Vicenzaoro shows we invite journalists to join us for dinner in a traditional Trattoria rather than in a super fancy starred restaurants... because we want to express how important it is to remain "us" and share a real sense of community and family spirit.
Esther: We have suddenly embraced digital and virtual connections- meetings and -work. We understand how much it brings us to travel less. Is VicenzaOro open to a more virtual future or a hybrid idea of creating a jewelry trade show?
Marco: For Vicenzaoro, the keyword is: omnichannel. A bit like the transformation of retail, our show will also include an experience both offline and online. This topic will be central in the coming years. We had already started this process of integrating online and offline channels, COVID-19 simply acted as an accelerator.
Esther: I understand the longing to create this show must be huge! Take us with you and your team; what can we expect?
Marco: The team is very motivated for this next edition. But it's not only our team that can't wait to get going again but also the companies. As a team, we were very excited after the success of VOJ20 and immediately jumped on the idea of doing even better in September. Of course, facing new regulations, measures, limitations of events, etc. is not what we had in mind in the beginning, and having to hit the brakes after the acceleration of the January edition is tiresome. But IEG’s team of super-engaged professionals has never stopped, and everyone keeps giving their best.
Esther: During the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen an explosion of (often free) seminars. Quick bites of inspiration, help, or explanation with the possibility to interact. Will we see more of this too in the upcoming edition(s)?
Marco: The trend of Webinars will undoubtedly continue after COVID-19. We are planning to expand the online content offering throughout the year - for example, with a series on Trendvision and the Museo del Gioiello.
The show will then be the physical moment of these valuable content series - and of course, we will continue live streaming during Vicenzaoro.
We resume the omnichannel concept here as well.
Esther: Full disclosure, I have been a hosted guest for the past years, and I appreciated it very much. Every season the show has invited a mix of journalists, bloggers, and influencers. What do you think they contribute to the industry and the show?
Marco: Journalists, bloggers, and influencers are part of the soul of Vicenzaoro. Their contribution is not only to amplify the visibility of the event and the exhibitors present. They are the real "agents of change": They help the industry to evolve because they can see the "big picture" before others and see new perspectives before the companies themselves. Having journalists at Vicenzaoro contributes to the development of the show itself.
I can say that many of the things we talked about with you during our dinners at the Trattoria, we put into practice! We will continue this way! Not only at the Trattoria. 😉
Esther: Have you ever thought about the possibility of bringing a new group to the show? Those who offer services instead of a product? Such as advisors, consultants, trainers, and more? Perhaps even just virtually?
Marco: Yes, absolutely!. Last September, we launched T.Evolution, which is a community dedicated to technologies, services, and consulting, and we plan to invest more and more in this chapter. For us, it is fundamental to represent the entire supply chain; it is what distinguishes us. Vicenzaoro wants to be a privileged moment and the most important event of the year for the whole supply chain to meet.
Esther: What would you like to share with the readers? What encouragement do you have for those who may doubt for reasons such as safety or ‘’I didn’t sell anything, I can’t really buy anything’’?
Marco: On the subject of safety, this will be a priority for the whole IEG Group, and we will soon launch the program "SAFE BUSINESS by IEG," which will be our quality label in terms of visit safety for the shows.
On the subject of selling, it will certainly not be a great year of consumption. But trade fairs also serve to face the near future better, to understand how to move and how to improve the way each operator will meet the business. Being in Vicenzaoro will be fundamental to lay the foundations for the relaunch. The sector has always had ups and downs, and this, too, will pass. Of course, this is not a time of big sales and transactions. Vicenzaoro, however, is not just a moment of transaction, but the opportunity to understand the trends and the future of the industry.
And then, as I read in one of your beautiful articles, I hope many people will buy a piece of jewelry - of any value - at the end of this pandemic, to celebrate its end... In the end, the value of the jewelry lies in that - it connects us to a story, to an emotion that will stay with us for life.
For more information, you can check out the website www.vicenzaoro.com
DATE VICENZAORO SEPTEMBER 2020: 5-9 September 2020.