IAA Mobility: a hybrid platform

The IAA is coming to Munich in September 2021 and, for the first time, will focus on bicycles. Tobias Gröber, executive director, business unit consumer goods at Messe München, and Jürgen Mindel, managing director of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), discuss the plans, goals and ideas that are to be achieved with the new concept of the fair as a mobility platform

VDA’s Jürgen Mindel (left) and Messe München’s Tobias Gröber (right)

Could you give us a short introduction to IAA Mobility?
The IAA represents a fundamentally new way of thinking. Mobility is not a matter of one or the other – it is not cars or bicycles, it is not for the countryside or urban areas – modern mobility is both. More than this, mobility is all kind of vehicles – it doesn’t matter how many wheels they have or how they’re powered – and all of them will be showcased. Urban air aviation, public transport, infrastructure assets, IoT, connectivity and everything tech are important as well.

We are asking NGOs with strong sustainability agendas to join the conversations on the IAA Mobility stages: our conference and dialogue platforms. We need to break down barriers and discuss our future, together.

TG: IAA Mobility is not a traditional show at a trade fair ground. IAA Mobility is a hybrid platform composed of digital solutions and three main physical touch points, which are as follows:

First: The “Open Space” – The B2C brand and product experience hubs located downtown, which are accessible for all end-consumers without the need for a ticket.

Second: The “Summit” – IAA Mobility’s main hub at Munich’s trade fair. The Summit is split into two parts: one that is only open for B2C visitors on the weekend, and one that is accessible for media, B2B and B2C visitors on all days (September 7th-12th). The cycling segment is located in the latter B2B2C area. An outdoor cycling and LEV test track will be constructed in this area of the Summit, too.

Third: The “Blue Lane” – an exclusive on-road test track for zero-emission vehicles, which will connect the Open Space and the Summit.

What has led to the IAA’s change in focus for 2021?
The change in mobility behaviour, especially in Europe, and the urgent need for more sustainable transportation on a global scale. The new IAA Mobility concept is an open invitation to other branches, e.g. the bicycle industry, to participate in shaping the future of mobility alongside stakeholders from both the automotive industry and businesses beyond.

How will this change affect previous focuses, such as apparel and accessories?
Apparel and accessories, especially everything in the softgoods category, will be hosted at OutDoor by ISPO. Why? Because cycling apparel is primarily sports gear (urban commuter products are still an absolute niche), and the majority of products shown at OutDoor by ISPO, across all the different sports segments, fall into the softgoods category.

From these brands’ perspectives, the timing (end of June/beginning of July) is perfect to collect pre-orders, which have to be sent to factories by mid-July at the latest in order to have shipments delivered in time for the fall/winter season. For small- to medium-sized cycling hardware brands, the June timing would not have been manageable on product sample level, even before COVID. And bigger bicycle brands need a strong B2C focus for any tradeshow-related budget they are spending.

To what extent do you anticipate this will change your target audience?
It won’t change anything, because the audiences are different: the cycling segment within IAA Mobility is more focused on B2C, even if it covers diverse B2B stakeholders at the same time.
If we highlight our end-consumer approach, we have to refer to the 2019 numbers, which are strong benchmarks. It is not only about the number of visitors, but also the massive international coverage IAA Mobility generates over 560 million digital reach, which excludes print and TV coverage. Over 7,800 journalists from 95 countries attended the show, a large proportion of whom worked for daily press and mainstream media.

TG: And as for the visitors: apart from the fact that 6.2 million people live in the Munich metropolitan area – which, by the way, has the highest average household income in Germany – fundamentally every international B2B visitor across the different mobility segments is at the same time a potential end-consumer for any bike brand exhibiting. Who doesn’t own a bike? In 2019, the visitors’ survey showed that they plan to spend an average of €60,470 on cars and mobility over the next months(!)

How are you working with cycling organisations to drive attendance?
We are slightly behind schedule, as we had planned to have talked to all organisations already. But right now, we have only had conversations with a few international and global associations, for example with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry which will host its biannual World Cycling Forum during IAA Mobility in 2021. But we will also talk to all the different national cycling associations in the near future, so in the first quarter of next year.

When talking to them, the most important thing will be to ask: what are your pain points? We – VDA and MMG – are always happy to listen and adjust to different needs. But so far the industry feedback from individual brands has been very good, especially for the pre-built booth solutions at the Summit combined with the brand experience hubs at the Open Space. It maximises ROI and massively reduces the time and effort on the marketing department’s side.

The World Cycling Forum (WCF) will now be taking place in tandem with IAA. What does that mean for the event?
JM: Inclusion and synergy effects. Key stakeholders that normally would only visit or speak at the WCF can now do so at the IAA Conference, and vice versa. It’s simply a huge win-win situation. Industries can sometimes be self-centric, it doesn’t matter if it’s automotive, cycling, LEV, public transport… but in the end, we are just one big industry: the mobility industry.

The products showcased at IAA Mobility will prove that the lines between the categories are fading: former automotive-only brands showing pedelecs, e-bikes, and scooters as well as former bicycle-only brands, and all-new players presenting pedal and crank-activated e-4-wheelers.

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