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Tools of the Trade(show)

By: Hong Mei (hmei@wrapcompliance.org)
Jul 16

It has been several years since WRAP started exhibiting at trade shows. As part of our business development strategy, we decided to do this to have more visibility to brands, buyers, and designers, and to persuade them to accept WRAP. They would then require their manufacturing facilities worldwide to enroll in our program. which directly translates into more workers being protected in the supply chain.


I have represented WRAP in many of these shows and have seen the success and the recognition they brought to WRAP over the years. We went from visitors asking “what does WRAP do?” in our early shows to WRAP being invited by the show organizers to speak at their seminars. Over the years, more and more buyers have started to integrate WRAP into their social responsibility programs, and we have become recognized as a leader in the industry. When we first started attending some of these shows, however, that was not the case.


When we first decided to begin attending trade shows, we did not know what would be the best way to make us known to the organizers and the show visitors. We talked to the visitors to our booth, to the factories in the sourcing section, and to the speakers at the seminars. These efforts were to make connections which we hoped would lead to the establishment of great relationships. But the first a couple of trade shows we attended did not result in great returns for the investments that we put into them. We quickly figured out that working with the trade show organizers by way of either a pavilion of WRAP factories or a sponsorship could bring us much better visibility and recognition. We teamed up with Sourcing at MAGIC which takes place twice a year in Las Vegas, USA. MAGIC management believed responsible sourcing had to be part of the show and wanted to emphasize it through WRAP during the show. The WRAP Pavilion was born.


Both WRAP and its pavilion participants received premiere treatment at MAGIC. These factories were featured in the Sourcing at MAGIC directory as the responsible suppliers of the show. A big signage with their names and booth numbers was placed right at the entrance of the show. MAGIC info booth distributed a list of WRAP certified factories for visitors who preferred sourcing from responsible factories. (Note that besides the WRAP certified factories in the pavilion, there were other WRAP certified factories in the show.) That resulted in more buyers/brands coming to the WRAP booth and asking for the full list of certified facilities. The buyers/brands also ask the suppliers at the show whether they were WRAP certified. They then came to the WRAP booth and asked for the info on how to get WRAP certified. When that happens, you know your name is out there. You know your work of protecting workers’ right and safety is paying off.


To be a leader in your field though, you have to be a thought leader too. Speaking at trade shows has proven to be a great opportunity to demonstrate that WRAP is not only the world’s largest factory based certification body for apparel and footwear, it is also a CSR thought leader. Given our recognition at MAGIC, WRAP has been invited several times to speak at their seminars on various topics facing the supply chain. Our reputation as the industry thought leader has increased steadily as we make more and more appearances. In the past few years, several WRAP staffers have spoken at trade shows with our President and CEO Avedis Seferian and Senior Director of Strategy and Business Development Clay Hickson being the most frequent speakers in these events. They have provided valuable insight into how WRAP can be a cost-effective social compliance solution and discussed solutions on the challenges facing the social compliance world. Our presence in these seminars has solidified WRAP as a thought leader. More buyers have accepted WRAP as one of their accepted social compliance standards. Other buyers, even if they use their own scheme, come to discuss with WRAP about the issues facing the social compliance professionals today and possible solutions.


Our reputation as a thought leader has also brought us to Latin America, Europe and Africa. In these regions, WRAP has been invited to speak at trade shows about why factories should be socially compliant. Latin America, in particular, has brought back some manufacturing using their CSR advantage. and we are assisting this region in maintaining a competitive edge. In Europe, we have had more and more buyers and brands accepting WRAP thanks to our appearance at trade shows and our global team’s outreach to these buyers and brands.


Over the years, WRAP has come a long way to make our name known as a major social compliance scheme and to establish WRAP as one of the thought leaders in social compliance. In trade shows and events, we don’t get “what does WRAP do?” question that often any more. Instead, buyers/brands ask how they can get their suppliers WRAP certified. Factories come to our booth to get more info on what they do to get our certification. That shows the success we have had by attending and speaking at the shows and events.


We still have much work to do. Our next trade show, Sourcing at MAGIC in August in Las Vegas.


See you there!

 

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