January 07, 2021 • 10 minutes

How manufacturers can reach architects in a time without trade shows.

No face-to-face interactions. No travelling. No physical trade shows. At this very time and moment, manufacturers from around the globe are scrambling to find new ways to reach architects in COVID-19’s new normal. 

But how are architects, engineers, contractors and owners/operators (AECO) responding to the current crisis? And how can you, as a manufacturer, adapt to meet their needs? Let’s dig into it – with the intel from real-life professionals.

statistics BIMobject survey 2500+ AECO

This article is a summary of Trade shows are cancelled: How to reach architects in a time without trade shows. Get the full report now!

 

COVID-19's new normal: A time without trade shows


The roaring (20)20’s got off to a bad start: ecological destruction, political unrest and a pandemic that knocked the world off its feet. To add insult to injury; 2020 was a leap year…

COVID-19 presented an unprecedented global crisis that rippled through all parts of society. The problem for the construction industry is simple but substantial: the virus spreads from person to person. So, we can’t go to any events that break the boundaries of social distancing.

In the blink of an eye, trade shows around the world were put on hiatus. 

BIMexpo in Madrid, Coverings in New Orleans and Salone del Mobile in Milan were all cancelled and (perhaps optimistically) postponed to 2021. BAU in Munich chose another approach and decided to go full-blown digital for in January 2021.

With the golden boy of construction cancelled, manufacturers were - and are - left aghast at the notion of reaching, marketing and selling products in COVID-19’s “new normal”.

 

Will trade shows go back to normal? 


According to the BIMobejct survey, only 7% of architecture, engineering and construction professionals would go to an industry event today, and 43% want to wait until there are no more cases or a vaccine is deployed.

The recent vaccine developments are shedding some light of hope on what was a rather bleak scenario. With this said, it’s easy to think that everything will “go back to normal” one day. However, the “normal” we once knew might not be the same as after COVID-19 blows over.

We don’t want to sound the alarms not blurt out that trade shows have left the building permanently. They are important, and they will return someday. The million-dollar question is just when, how, in which format and for what purposes.


No travelling? No trade shows


The pandemic highlighted the importance of hygiene, imposed a new code of social conduct and made us acutely aware of potential health risks in our everyday lives. 

We’ve all been affected by the outbreak. But one particular industry was pointed out as THE corona culprit: the travel industry.

But how does this impact us? Well, travelling is imperative to the livelihood of trade shows. Without people, manufacturers lose out on the opportunity to build new relationships and to WOW AECOs with new products.

A majority of architects will travel less – even after COVID-19


Will the travel and transportation industries’ bad reps trickle into the post-pandemic world? The unfortunate answer is: probably. 

• According to our survey, 55% predict that they will travel less – even after the pandemic.

As we’ve previously said: trade shows will return. But COVID-19 made us a bit more wary about safety hazards. During our part 1 LIVE webinar (recorded version available), Emil Augustusson, Head of VDC at Veidekke Entreprenad, stated: 

“Even after COVID, going to trade shows means that you’re putting yourself at risk of contracting other diseases. It could put you out of work for weeks. This new sense of health awareness might impact whether we’re allowed to – or even willing to –  go to trade shows in the future.” 

 Empty seats on a train. Travel under covid


46% of architects research product online


One of the main advantages of trade shows is that it gives manufacturers an opportunity to showcase new products and unveil new developments.

However…

The survey uncovers a massive rift in expectations: AECOs don’t attend trade shows for product research. Rather, 45% go for education and conferences. 

So, the question is: how are they researching products for their next great design? Well, 46% state that they use search engines. Only 9% rely on trade shows.

What does this mean for manufacturers? Well, you need to increase your digital presence if you want to create product traction, generate leads and get specified.
Find out how the BIMobject marketplace helps manufacturers reach architects online. 

 

Digital tools are becoming the new norm in construction


Since the advent of the pandemic, the world has seen an unprecedented breakthrough in the adoption of digitisation tools. Over the course of a day, companies all over the world were forced to switch face-to-face activities for virtual counterparts.

Construction has often been seen as traditional and technologically laggard. But for the professionals within the industry, things are starting to change: 52% of AECOs state that the pandemic made their work “a lot more digital”.

Professionals working from home. Digitalisation

Is this a COVID-19 fluke? Or will the trend persevere? Our respondents are leaning towards the latter: 61% expect to use more digital tools even after the crisis.

 

Manufacturers need to get digital to sell to architects


COVID-19 propelled the need for digital tools, and it’s slowly but surely becoming a natural part of the ”new normal”.

AECOs are getting accustomed to the virtual workspace and their new tools. Their digital maturity rises for each day that passes by, and they expect you to follow suit.

The ongoing digitalisation process poses both a challenge and a significant opportunity for the conservative construction sector. But the bottom line is: manufacturers need to start adapting their strategies and adopting new tools to keep up with architects in the “new normal” – and beyond.

 

Want more? Download Trade shows are cancelled: How to reach architects in the new normal for more statistics and industry insights.

 

Psst... Part two will be released Q1 2021. Keep your eyes peeled and Follow us on LinkedIn to get it as soon as it drops.