MILAN, Italy (BRAIN)—The red line subway route overflows as consumers swarm in great numbers to the Fiera Milano to see the latest bicycles and motorcycles.
But as more and more bike manufacturers flock to the Friedrichshafen expo in September to show new product, Costantino Ruggiero (pictured) faces a tough decision—how to restructure his show or whether to move to earlier dates to bring back manufacturers and dealers.
“The bicycle show is facing a difficulty,” said Ruggiero, chief executive officer of EICMA, on Friday morning, shaking his head. “We’re trying to give it a different look, atmosphere and identity.”
The brand count declined from 452 in 2007 to 300 this year. And last year’s show—when it joined the motorcycle expo after years of being a standalone event—experienced a significant drop in exhibitors from the previous year.
Companies said they’re here to show product to consumers not dealers. However, even public attendance stands to suffer if the show shrinks further.
In 2007 EICMA introduced a wooden velodrome track, and this year it added a mountain bike course and races. It also included more booths showcasing transportation bikes—all efforts to appeal to consumers. “We’re also trying to promote tourism by bike,” Ruggiero said.
Moving the show to an earlier date to coincide with manufacturers’ introductions would boost exhibitor and dealer numbers. But, Ruggiero said, even September doesn’t have everyone’s vote.
“One third (of suppliers) say July, one third say September and one third say November,” Ruggiero said, citing research by ANCMA, the Italian association of manufacturers of motorcycles and bicycles.
September poses the biggest challenge: having to compete with Eurobike, which has gained a stronger foothold in the European and global market over the past few years. And July is the busiest time for dealers, Ruggiero said.
Meanwhile, November is the best time for professional racers, who compete at the velodrome. Also, visitors from the motorcycle show tend to be a younger demographic, exposing bike brands to a new consumer, he added.
Ruggiero said ANCMA, which puts on the show, will conduct a post-show survey to gauge exhibitors’ reaction and satisfaction with this year’s event. The survey will also go to companies who did not exhibit. Results will help determine next year’s dates and possible changes to show format and length, he said.