Pent-up demand requires business alacrity

Forestry Innovation Consulting India (better known as Canadian Wood) is a not-for-profit agency of the Government of British Columbia (Canada) with a mandate to promote forest products in the off-shore markets.

Though we are not engaged in any direct commercial activity, we monitor the macro-economic scenario in the country. Our interactions with our stakeholders (who buy, sell and/or use Canadian wood species) have led to the following observations:

•        Most of the businesses fared pretty badly during and immediately after the lockdown as they were mostly shut. But things have started looking up gradually;

•        Businesses catering to high net worth individuals and high-end projects recovered faster and better, and have healthy order books;

•        Businesses catering to lower end of the market, which faces cash flow challenges either went out of business or limping back to normalcy. This market is roughly 70% of its pre-Covid business volumes.

But projection of the business is good and demand is expected to go up, which is borne out by the positive turn the economy has taken over the last couple of quarters.

India is a large market and you cannot expect such a market to lie dormant for long: pent-up demand will require business to cater to it.

Going virtual

Canadian Wood did walk through a couple of virtual trade shows; but we focused on organising our own webinars, specifically focussing on one target audience at a time.

This yielded good results by way of creating more awareness and spread of education about Canadian wood species, their properties and applications. We also highlighted the hand-holding and technical support that we bring to the table as an organisation both for re-man and structural applications.

Our webinars attracted a larger audience with intent of serious leaning, without any distractions – perhaps because no travel was required to attend them and there was the safety factor.

If I may say so, this is a far more cost-effective way of reaching out to your target audience and address their requirements. We will continue to engage one-on-one with our target audience, which is a lot safer compared to mass gatherings, and are highly productive.

However, I don’t think the same can be said of virtual exhibitions.

Trade shows

Traditionally exhibitions have provided platforms to manufacturers and traders to physically showcase the virtues of their products and/or their technical competence to visitors and build data of potential customers.

Such events also provide visitors (especially small players) to physically check out the products through a demo on-site, which is not possible in a virtual exhibition.

So far as IndiaWood and DelhiWood go, they are an all-important marketing exercise for us. We showcase products made with Canadian wood species and with the assistance and support of Canadian Wood.

However, it is still not clear when it will be safe to hold such a show. But as and when we get there, the organisers would do well to adopt all government-mandated precautions for exhibitors and visitors alike.

Visitors can expect us to put forth our best foot forward within the given constraints. We will do everything possible to delight them with Canadian wood products and technical support.

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