After 18 months of interruption, the decoration and lifestyle fair MAISON & OBJET reopened its doors to visitors in early September in Paris, and we were lucky to be there! Céline Lo-Ré, Sales Executive at the KIDS & FAMILY sector, tells us everything about this successful reopening in this week's interview !

1. The fair closed its September edition after a year and a half of pandemic situation. The amount of people that came proved that everyone wanted a physical fair to happen. What was it like? What are your feelings about coming back?

There was a euphoric atmosphere in the hallways. The media fair is an important connection for professionals in the home decor and design markets as they prepare for the end-of-year shopping season. The offer was reduced but revealing of our sectors as well in the diversity of the offer as in the creative and qualitative level of the presented collections.

Buyers were there, determined to discover new brands and new products. We welcomed more than 48,000 buyers with 28% of foreign visitors, mainly from Europe.

To sum up in 3 words: it was a show rich in emotion, contacts and orders.

2. During the online period, did you take care of the kids & family category?

We have 2 very different sales teams. I am part of the fair team, we mainly take care of the physical event, and we have a second sales team that is focused on the digital domain and takes care of it. We have contributed and worked together to create digital events to allow the community to keep a connection, to come together with the Maison et Objet ecosystem, which has a robust, vast community. It is a big family. It allows brands to maintain visibility online between shows: during shows to refresh trends and inspiration, in between, it's a super-strong tool for brands to keep in touch with buyers but not only. The youth-specialized media like stylists, journalists, and photographers also mainly seek inspiration and prospect young brands since the site's offer is eclectic and modern.

3. Concerning the Kids and Family section, do you have any specific feedback from the brands?

I let the brands present at the show speak...

"An order show"; "a successful bet"; "happy to be back"; "an unexpected success"; "in January, we'll be back"; "less quantitative buyers, but more qualitative"; "the good surprise of having internationals"; "the absence of some leaders benefited us, buyers could really discover new brands like us"; "the challenge is won" ...

4. How did you make them feel comfortable and safe to come back to the fair?

The September edition is a flagship edition for the KIDS&FAMILY sector with the holiday season. There is a natural enthusiasm from the brands to exhibit at the show. In Paris, there is no show dedicated to toys or children specifically, except for textiles. Maison et Objet is therefore seen as an essential place to launch new products, gain visibility and generate orders, especially after a "confined" year. We played the card of transparency and solidarity to best support our partners who trusted us, by optimizing and customizing solutions adapted to their needs. 

Concerning the sanitary part, a strict and effective system based on the sanitary pass was also applied to reassure all the exhibitors and visitors.

5. What about the MOM platform. Have you found the balance between MOM and the physical exhibition?

The MOM platform is complementary to the media fair. It is a tool that allows you to stay in touch with the decorating and design community throughout the year. It is a powerful communication tool for brands active online.

It is digitalized, but it is not intended to change the DNA of Maison et Objet, which is an event and physical fair, even if MOM is expanding with the digital age, today it does not and will never come to cancel or take part in the show. Buyers want to come and see and touch, especially in the Kids' sector where there is a sensory environment, attractive and candid. People want to exchange, share, and get the news, which is still linked to the physical part. On the digital part, we will continue with the same approach as at a trade show when we come to prospect, monitor, get inspired, keep contacts ... The approach is different. They are both linked but complementary. For small brands, exhibiting at the physical fair allows them to have a visibility that they would not have if they were just with e-commerce, they benefit from the notoriety of the show, and that's great for them. It changes everything when you can see the products,  and I believe the show is profitable for them because of it.

6. Concerning the youth press (stylists, journalists, photographers) do you think they all came to look for news ? 

The main role of the fair is to propose novelties. On Kids&Family, 1/3 of the exhibitors are new, which is the strength and richness of the sector. The visitors (buyers, press and others) come to look for new trends, to be inspired, to prospect new brands to propose an eclectic and current offer in their store and/or commercial site. 

7.  What is your relationship with them, do you do any particular actions with them? Is MOM also a platform for them?

There is no specific action by sector but a global communication strategy with the press. We have the opportunity to organize quick-speed dating with brands that inspire us because it is a bit the core of Maison et Objet. We are the ones who work on the content, and then we can present themselves to the press.

MOM has an editorial content to promote brands and products via thematic selections. This allows us to generate images and inspirations every week, with a focus on new products and the research of our influencers. Thanks to the selections that can be refined thanks to the KIDS section, it is a precious tool for the youth press (stylists, journalists, and photographers). 

8. What are your expectations for January? Do you think more brands will be willing to come back? What are your thoughts? Have you received any specifications from the brands?

After the enthusiasm of the September edition, we are already mobilized for the next January edition.

Given that the sanitary context seems to be improving and that the legislation is becoming more flexible concerning the opening of borders, we hope to be able to resume the same dynamics as before the coronavirus and to welcome again buyers from the great export...

The KIDS&FAMIY sector has the ambition to develop the "family" axis and to promote the quality labels around the "made in" or the eco responsibility for the next edition.

You can follow MAISON & OBJET on their website here and on their Instagram account @maisonetobjet here