TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN)—A clear shift is developing in the attendance and focus of the Taipei Cycle Show as Asia’s fast-emerging economies, bolstered by a more affluent middle class, rediscovers cycling as a recreational activity. (For more daily coverage from the Taipei Cycle Show, click on the PDF by clicking on the title and then "Visit Link").
Asian-Pacific nations like Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and others are changing the show’s complexion.
But of more importance to exhibitors were the record number of Chinese distributors and retailers walking the aisles at the Nangang Exhibition Hall. The Chinese now comprise the single largest contingent of foreign attendees, up 36.7 percent over last year. Their interest reflects the growing influence and buying power of China’s new middle class.
While the Taipei Show remains an important venue for the West, of the top five countries sending attendees to Taiwan, three were Asian—China (including Hong Kong), Japan and Korea. Rounding out the top five were the U.S. and Germany.
TAITRA, the show’s organizers, said this year’s event set new records with a 6 percent increase in exhibitors with 948 companies representing 36 nations filling 3,060 booths. The show also recorded a 10.5 percent increase in international visitors with 5,701 walking the aisles.
Despite the increase, attendance from Japan and Germany fell 20 percent as the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northern shore cast a shadow over the show, said Andrea Wu, a TAITRA spokeswoman.
“It’s surprising that visitors from the Asia-Pacific area not only increased this year, but they were focusing on higher-end products and were very interested in French-made products, which is very different from the past,” said Chiang Hailum, representing UBI France. Hailum organizes the French Pavilion, now in its second year at the show.
Mike “Wick” Wickland, KORE’s sales and promotions director, echoed her view. “It’s countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and others that are now riding bikes for recreation. This show is evidence that riding bikes (in Asia) is now more about recreation than it is about transportation,” he said.
Wick, as he prefers to be called, said KORE’s future growth as well as that of other U.S. and European brands will come from Asian-Pacific Rim nations. “That’s where we will see our numbers increase,” he said.
Stella Yu, founder and owner of Velo, said she met with a number of visitors from China, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. “One company from Indonesia (a retailer) brought 38 people to the show,” said Yu, whose company manufactures saddles for many of the industry’s premier brands. “A lot of them are just looking right now,” she added.
Erik Kimble, general manager of Colmax, a Taiwan distributor whose lines include Park Tool, Kool-Stop, Finish Line, Continental, Campagnolo and other U.S. and European brands, agreed. “I’ve been getting upwards of 40 or 50 Chinese visitors a day in my booth,” he said.
Keiran Earl, marketing manager for Pro-Lite, a brand sold primarily in Europe, also noted more interest from Asian nations. “Absolutely, yes. We’ve seen a lot of interest from Korea, Japan and Indonesia, but it’s from stores that are just trying to get started,” he said.
Still, for Taiwan manufacturers, the U.S. and Europe remain its key export markets with only Japan ranked in the top 10. And as Taiwan maintains its position as the global leader in high-value manufacturing and assembly, Taipei Cycle and its mid-March show make it a significant event on the trade show calendar.
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