This week I attended the Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham. Along with catching up with contacts old and new, it also gave me a great chance to explore the trends and opportunities in the FMCG, Retail and Ecommerce sector for 2016.
It was clear that trends from 2015 are going to continue in to 2016. Home baking on the back of British Bake Off continues to be on trend, even with a visit to the show from the winner herself, Nadia. I was also getting in to the Christmas spirit early walking around the Christmas hall. You can’t beat a life size singing Santa!
With my 7 month old son Harry in mind I was also excited by all the Star Wars products on show. I can’t wait to introduce him to the ‘ways of the force’ myself! This will be a trend well beyond 2016 I am sure. Some of my favourites were the Star Wars foil balloons from Amscan. I am sure they will be making an appearance at my son’s birthday parties in the future.
Whilst at the Fair I also enjoyed listening to some of the seminars and inspirational stories from business leaders and entrepreneurs and how they achieved their own success.
One that stood out for me was listening to Julie Deane, the founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company. It was great to learn how she developed her business from selling a few satchels in her kitchen, to the worldwide success that it is today.
Here is a video which outlines her drive and determination to succeed.
She was talking on the UKTI stand at the show around how to expand your business and grow internationally. Through some strong product placement, association with relevant bloggers, and some ‘gorilla marketing’ techniques, she has grown the business to being celebrity endorsed, featured in films and having Vivienne Westwood design new bags on her behalf.
In 2013 Julie was also the first woman to be named Entrepreneur of the Year by the European Business Awards.
So, what can you and I learn from a successful entrepreneur such as Julie? Here is some of the advice that Julie offered:
- Have the determination and motivation to succeed. Her motivation was driven by being able to provide for her children.
- Make the challenge BIG!
- Don’t surround yourself with negative people.
- Never feel massively at risk – She started the company with £600 and talked about how she continues to closely monitor the numbers.
- Don’t be put off by export. They are no different to your local customers. You just have to post it further!
- Customers are King! – She personally emailed all customers who purchased the satchels asking how they heard about the product as well as why they were motivated to buy it. This was the most powerful market intelligence she could gain!
- Brand is so important. Don’t let a large retailer remove your branding or redevelop what you have built. You are the expert! Only have collaborations with people who excite you.
Here is a video of her talking through her advice and tips and lessons she has learnt from building the business to the £13m International business it is today.
I look forward to attending further trade shows this year and learning from more people like Julie. I would love to hear how you got on at the Spring Fair and what you took away from it.
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