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IFA 2023 Press Conference Highlights Stability in Transition

2023 IFA Opening Press Conference
From left to right: Leif-Erik Lindner, Sara Warneke, and Oliver Merlin

Stability within transition was a central theme to the IFA Berlin 2023 opening press conference, which brought together current Managing Director of IFA Management Oliver Merlin, future Managing Director of IFA Management Leif-Erik Lindner, and Managing Director of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics Sara Warneke. 

Not only is IFA Management undergoing a period of transition but so too is the consumer electronics industry as a whole. 

By the Numbers 

Dr. Sara Warneke kicked off the press conference by diving into the state of the industry, describing it with three words “volatility, uncertainty and complexity.” She went on to say, “We see a lot of change and there are highly diverging trends in local markets. And yet, despite all this, overall, the market of consumer electronics and home appliances is pretty robust.” 

While technical sales of consumer goods fell by roughly 12 percent in Western Europe, China, and “Developed Asia,” between the years ending in December 2022 and December 2021, global sales are still 9.3 percent greater than they were in 2019, according to a gfk market intelligence report. 

Overall, Warneke pointed to four distinct phases the market has gone through since 2019 saying, “First pre-COVID, we had a slight downward trend. Next, we saw a huge growth during the first two years of the pandemic, with sales soaring more than 30 percent. However, as restrictions eased, demand suddenly dropped. But then in November last year, we saw the beginning of a debt turnaround; markets stabilized, normalized and stopped shrinking.”

Now, according to Warneke, the market looks to be headed towards positive growth in the back half of 2023 as we enter the busy holiday shopping season. 

Major Themes

When asked by a member of the audience what he was most proud of in this year’s show Oliver Merlin replied, “[We] really started from nothing. We had no office, no team, no data to start with.” He went on to say that putting IFA 2023 together was like “being a startup with a 100-year history.” 

The 2023 show, which encompasses 130,000 square meters, features 2,059 exhibitors representing nearly 50 countries from all around the world. The show is also expected to attract 180,000 visitors from 144 countries.

Moreover, with a robot playing a DJ set at the opening night’s concert alongside DJ Annie O, the show is setting out to prove that robots and artificial intelligence are the direction the industry is heading. The 2023 IFA show is putting a special spotlight on artificial intelligence, robotics, sustainability, and connected living, four categories that the management team has identified as being worthy of receiving a dedicated physical space. 

Another point of pride for the leadership team of the 2023 IFA show is the 70 to 30 ratio of returning exhibitors to first-time exhibitors, which Merlin touted as an “important sign of a healthy show.”

As mentioned previously, 2023 has been a transition year for IFA. Merlin, who will be handing over the reins of IFA to Leif-Erik Lindner on October 1, 2023, delivered a heartfelt message to the crowd during his opening speech saying, “Managing and running a show like IFA is an incredible duty and responsibility.” He went on to say, “On behalf of myself and my team and everybody at Clarion, we would like to thank you for choosing us and giving us this opportunity. It’s really been an incredible ride so far. We can only hope that we have repaid your faith and that what you see over the next few days is something to be proud of and something that we can take forward.”

A Bright Future

Another major theme of the talk was preparation for the show’s 100th anniversary in 2024. The message from Leif-Erik Lindner, who will take over the show in 2024, was clear and promising: “We really want IFA to start the next century as an event that is much younger, more enjoyable, and most importantly, more visible than ever before. When you visit IFA next year you can look forward to even more events and experiences. After all, when people come to an event like IFA they don’t just want information. They want to be inspired.” 

Lindner, who brings 25 years of industry experience to the job a significant portion of which came with Samsung Electronics Germany, laid out the future track for IFA: “The team this year has effectively just eight months to get everything ready. They did a really great job. But obviously, it was a big challenge. There are plenty of learnings and insights that will flow into our preparations for 2024.” 

While the team is already preparing for IFA 2024 there is still plenty to look ahead to at this year’s show. Be sure to follow along with our website as we deliver the latest updates.