Next year there will be a craving for any major event (Stephan Grünewald,

“Next year there will be a craving for any major event,” Stephan Grünewald, the managing director of the rheingold market and media association, told the Börsenblatt.

Corona-related, 2020 will be the year without trade fairs. Exhibitors and visitors may find out: It can be done without it?

For decades, we were a society in an eventful standstill, resistant to change. What the financial crisis and Greta failed to do now means that public life is gradually being shut down. The hamster purchases we have seen in recent weeks also anticipate the temporary end of the hamster wheel. As for an extended Christmas, we are gearing up for a time in the family. But Christmas can only be survived because seven days later is New Year’s Eve and then the corks pop again. My prediction is that next year there will be a craving for any major event.

Business or experience? How does the mixture have to be at a trade fair?

Most of the motifs that a mass fulfills are emotional in nature. These include competition, opposition to competitors in the tightest of spaces, show spirit and pride, community experience or exchange and closeness. The business side only comes into play when transferring goods and know-how.

The IAA is shrinking, the Cebit has been discontinued – is the trend perhaps going to smaller formats anyway?

These are natural corrective movements. The fair satisfies different needs. Whether and how this succeeds is not only determined by size. In order to satisfy the show lust, one needs as large an audience as possible. Exchange and proximity, i.e. the quality of encounters, can be fulfilled just as well at smaller events. Experiencing community, the oceanic feeling of rising into something bigger, needs a certain size, but can also tip into a feeling of lostness and self-dissolution if the mass grows out too much and extends over endless halls. I believe that the Corona break will lead to all trade fair organisers rethinking their concepts.

After the cancellation of the Leipzig Book Fair, a lot of replacement events were created in a hurry, virtually on the net, but also in real terms at smaller locations. Exception or rule?

This seems to me to be a phenomenon in the book industry. Reading itself is a very autonomous, sometimes autistic process. But there is also another side, which is about at the lit. Cologne, which has managed to transform the intimacy of reading into the event of a major event. It is quite possible that not only Netflix will boom in the coming months, but the book will also become a consolation in social Lent.

What can be replaced by digital trade fairs, for which technology is becoming more and more sophisticated? Motifs such as pointing lust and pride can also be satisfied online.

That will happen. However, our studies in commerce and with young readers show that the more time people spend in digital worlds in front of computers, smartphones, laptops and cetera, the greater the longing for analogue life, for real encounters and experiences.


Contact the author

Stephan Grünewald

The psychologist Stephan Grünewald from Cologne is founder of the market and media research institute rheingold. Grünewald was with the books "Deutschland auf der Couch" (2006) and "Die erschöpfte Gesellschaft" (2013) and "Wie tickt Deutschland?" (2019) bestselling author. Tel .: +49 221-912 777-17 E-Mail:

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