Research & Results 2015: Follow Mustard to Munich

Last week Simon Dunn and I decamped to Munich, land of litre beers and slow cooked pork products, of which we consumed with unrestrained wantonness.  We were there for a two day whistle stop tour of the Research and Results (R&R) annual trade exhibition.

R&R is the largest regular market research trade exhibition in Europe. Although it is primarily a showcase for German agencies, we had heard great reviews and with some our clients in attendance it only made sense for Mustard to hop on a plane for the short flight to see what all the fuss is about.

With around 170 exhibitors and 3,200 attendees, R&R certainly has the scale to put other trade exhibitions in Europe to shame. At R&R the exhibition is the main event, while the content and presentations are an aside to the networking. This is what sets the event apart from other exhibitions in Europe where the content is usually the star of the show.

We dipped in and out of some of the English language sessions; for the most part we had either seen it before or felt they were somewhat commercial in nature. But as the exhibition was the focus here we contented ourselves with strolling through the aisles.  It was great to see such a mix of agencies and suppliers, including a host of the biggest research agencies present, certainly the broadest range of industry participants I’ve seen in one space. And although it was, unsurprisingly, heavily skewed toward German companies, there were a great deal of UK, US and international companies also in attendance.

From a marketing point of view it’s always interesting to see the variety in effort, time and money companies put into their exhibition stand. Some companies invest a huge amount in their custom exhibition stands. They spend quality time thinking about their brand from a visual perspective. How do we recreate our brand values in a limited space? How do we attract passing foot traffic?

Some stands relied on providing a unique experience to attendees. TNS were dishing out cocktails all day to thirsty attendees, whereas MaritzCX provided everyone with food and coffee- a particular pull the morning after the Research Club party. Other stands relied on arresting visual design, like the guys at LINK, who’s stand looked stunning this year.

But there are always a handful of exhibitors that feel that a table, chair and a couple of pop-up banners will do. I understand that exhibiting at these events, combined with the cost of hotels, flights and food can be an expensive outlay for a small agency. I also understand that R&R will attract a broad range of potential clients, some looking for budget research solutions. But as the old-adage goes; dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I can’t help thinking that with a bit more time and effort, along with some smart thinking, some of the smaller agencies could be doing more to make a better impression at a show like Research and Results.