For the first time, this autumn we will be displaying our beer taps and columns at the Horeca Expo, the largest trade fair of the Belgian horeca sector. Aplimet is in the process of expanding and internationalising its brand, and so Aplimet’s presence at international trade fairs, such as the Ghent fair, is essential for showing our capacity to design, develop and produce, and to strengthen our bonds with our Belgian customers and increase our market share in this country.
From 19 to 23 November, the twenty-ninth edition of Horeca Expo 2017 will be taking place in Ghent (Belgium). This is an annual trade fair that gathers all of the players of the hostelry sector: hotels, restaurants, bars, cafeterias, professional kitchens, group restaurant centres and industry services, which is the area we deal with. This is the largest event of the Belgian horeca sector, with a surface area of 54,000 m2 that for 5 days will receive more than 650 exhibitors and 3,000 brands to attend around 50,000 professional visitors.
The trade fair has a long programme full of activities of great interest to those attending: seminars, talks, discussions, workshops, culinary competitions, show cooking, spaces for networking, etc. One of the fair’s most outstanding aspects is the stress it places on innovation, creating a whole platform to present the trends of the sector, to foster imagination and to be a source of inspiration; this is the framework for the Innovation Awards in the horeca sector.
A fair like that in Ghent is essential, given the area’s beer-making tradition. It is well known that the monasteries of the north of Europe, including those of the Flanders region, were responsible for encouraging beer production as far back as the Middle Ages. It is therefore hardly surprising that Belgium is ahead of us in the production of craft fermented beer production, which began to become popular in the 80s. And here we come across a curious detail: beer is of such importance in Belgium that last year UNESCO placed it on the “List Representing the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind”.
Our presence at international fairs is essential for the Aplimet internationalisation process. Moreover, Belgium is a strategic market for us for the number of independent beer companies that have not been absorbed by any group, with which we are able to carry out very interesting custom projects. In fact one of the first international customers with which we began to work was the Belgian Brewery Boostels, for whom we developed the Kwak and Tripple Karmeliet columns on an exclusive basis. This was our starting point, but since then our relationship with the country has become stronger and our presence has gradually increased. We now have four Belgian customers for whom we have made Handles and customised columns, specifically for the Bavik, St. Bernardus,
Maneblusser and Carolus brands.
Why personalisation? Throughout history, production has adapted to each stage of development, depending on each one’s needs. Industry, design and people have witnessed and participated in its transformation. Although at one time it was necessary to industrialise production to supply a greater number of people, serial production gave rise to a movement that lay claim to aesthetics and originality, which would eventually add usability. In these two centuries of industrialisation, there have been changes that have affected the way we live and consume, such as access to information and communication technologies, the ease of mobility the length and breadth of the planet and the transition from a national to a transnational industry. Globalisation has led us to a context in which the differences are increasingly blurred, distances being those characteristics that locate and identify the products. Personalisation arises from the need to localise the global and globalise the local. And at this point we stop talking about production and talk about personalisation.
If all this is brought to our terrain, the personalisation of beer taps and columns is the tool with which we ensure that the brands are localised, differentiated and stand out in this global and homogeneous context, which strengthens the link between the consumer and the brand. What is the effect? The personalised design appeals to communication, forming a three-way dialogue in which the consumer and the beer brand (or the premises) intervene, all mediated by the tap or the column. The tap becomes the spokesperson for the brand, which is why it must implicitly carry the values of the brand in the design. For this it is essential that the process of conceptualisation, design and production be carried out in close collaboration with the customer. Once again we refer to closeness to the customer, an alliance that is essential for us and enriches the final product. In the case of the Belgian brands with which we have worked, personalisation helps them to make a place for themselves in a context where competition has an important weight. For this reason, this independent sector, which has increasingly more strength not only in Belgium, but also in many countries of the world, including Spain, must take into account our experience and ability to perform personalised projects.
In short, the presence of Aplimet at Horeca Expo will contribute to gaining the loyalty of our customers and to letting us meet other potential customers. But the most important thing is to show the sector that they can trust us and that we will continue to wager on a service close to the companies with which we work, wherever they might be.