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Shanghai Expo 2010

The World Comes to China . . . Again!

This time the 70 million attendees expected to show up are coming mostly from small towns and villages in China.  They are encouraged by the government and often supported financially to come to the fair and see what the excitement is all about.

In June, we were part of a delegation organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong which traveled to the fair.  AmCham secured VIP passes for us, so we didn't experience the fair like the masses; waiting in multiple-hour long lines, etc.  This did allow us, therefore, to see more pavilions and exhibits than most people experience in a short visit.  So it was a great advantage.

Expo Pavilions

The architecture was fantastic!  Most of the pavilions used building materials which were native to their country or at least environmentally responsible.

 
         Romanian Pavilion                                      UAE Pavilion

But unfortunately the content of most pavilions was not very inspiring.

 

The Russian Pavilion had a gentle lace-look exterior, but inside the fantasy environment was punctuated with rockets and moon exploration vehicles running all over.  Not sure what that message was.

The US Pavilion put on a great show which discussed American's ability to pull together in times of adversity to create a better life.

 
While the architecture was simple, the message was strong.  The only complaint was the level of sponsor visibility, starting with a Budweiser kiosk right along side the main entrance.

Other pavilions of note:

   

The Belgian Pavilion gave away chocolate, Italy celebrated life through art, fashion and food, and the Swiss gave visitors the chance to try their hand at blowing a mountain trumpet.

 

Canada built their pavilion with native redwood and inside showed off a symphony of sights and sounds with a signature Cirque de Soliel theme to it all.

 

The China Pavilion was most impressive inside and out.  But the China Provinces Pavilion gave each region a chance to boast and show off a little.

But crossing the Huangpu river from the Pudong side to the Puxi side, the future visioning got serious.  Of note was the corporate pavilions which explored the future of Chinese rail travel and ship building.

 

The rail pavilion gave examples of the high speed railway and network of train stations which are soon to unite China.  Similarly, the maritime pavilion exhibited examples of ships that are introducing farming at sea, new concepts in cruise ships and vessels outfitted for research.

Retail at Expo 2010

Can't visit an event like the expo without a little analysis of the retail.

Sadly, the stores visited were pretty weak.

 

The Swiss and Italian stores were sold out of just about everything, so there was little to see or choose from.

 

The Belguim and USA stores were some of the few that considered vertical merchandising.  But sadly, the Americans didn't think of aiming their lighting.

When one thinks of all the talented store designers looking for assignments, it was a shame to see the money spent on these attempts at exit merchandising stores.

Expo 2010 Conclusion

                 

The Expo was an exciting visual treat.  And while our critique might seem harsh by some, in reality the Expo is doing what it intended to do; bring the world to the accessible doorstep of the Chinese people who seldom, if ever, traveled from their home village before.

By the end of October, 60+ million Chinese will have seen a glimpse of a world previously unimaginable.  And like the trojan horse above, they will be taken in and captured by this new vision of what is possible and what can be done with imagination and innovation.  It is going to be an interesting future.

 

 

European Travel

Along with excitement and inspiration which comes from a visit to Euroshop, this every-third-year trip also gives the careful observer the opportunity to view the distinctive shopping habits and cultural diversity of an entirely different sort.

2008 was our last trip and we're still talking about it. Most of the observations are still relevent.

Rome

On this trip, our point of entry to Europe was the Rome airport.  While of Italian heritage, it is a country this observer has never visited.  The airport was noisy, busy, and bright. 

The terminals were filled with people traveling for various purposes; business men and women enthusiastically gesturing to make their point to an associate, and families, laughing, hugging, and just enjoying being together.  While the Italian culture embodies passion and a love of life, the airport gives the visitor a sampling of what is just past security.


It was a very colorful scene, with an interesting assortment of shops; from the necessary Ferrari store, to leather handbags and accessories, to a surprising abundance of lingerie shops.  Of note, the Italian men were the most flambouyant, particularly with the dashing way they were their scarfs. Many were proudly wearing the obvious hot Spring fashion color - Orange!

After a short two hour layover, we are convinced that a holiday in Italy is a necessity to fully experience the treasures of the country and the people.

London

There is never enough time to really see London.  And there is not enough space here to share what the trip was really like, but here are two highlights.

The weather was incredibly mild, a change of season for us Winter-weary Midwesterners.  Therefore we encountered crowded sidewalks of pedestrians who all seemed on a mission - Shop!

We all got plenty of fashion ideas, both from the display windows in a country that still takes this retail actitivity as extremely important to lure customers, as well as from our fellow shoppers.

 

The most incredible store was Primark.  Situated on Oxford Street with style leaders such as Marks and Spencers, House of Frasier, and Harvey Nichols, this is an off-price retailer which is obviously winning over many British shoppers; both young and old, men and women, fashion-forward and filling basic apparel needs. 

The stores are very unkept, with discarded clothing that the previous shopper left on top of the fixture, which the next person has to deal with.  But this doesn't seem to deter the customers who dig through shelf and bins, looking for a bargain.

And customers are indeed finding what they are looking for.  Every cashwrap was fully staffed and the lines of shoppers waiting to check out, snaked around the store.