The ERA Europe Annual Membership Meeting was held in beautiful Lisbon from January 20th - 22nd, 2016. The most important day was Thursday 21st January which was the day of the General Assembly, the highest body of our association, where the members review the work of the board, oversee the 2015 financials and gather to approve the 2016 Budget.
Being very early in the year, we had the opportunity to reside in the Four Seasons Hotel located on a hill at the foot of the famous Avenida da Libertade. We were so pleased with the ambience, the service and food, that our Head of PR was inspired to write an enthusiastic recommendation on trip advisor.
Back to business
During the last Barcelona board meeting we decided that the next step in restructuring ERA Europe would be to work on delivered content and messages to be delivered by ERA Europe and as well to create a professional identity packaging. Immediately after the show a review process started. Simple but important questions were posed at the beginning of this process: What do we do? How do we do it? For whom do we do it? What value do we bring?
From these questions we created a communication concept and plan, changing step by step not only the existing packaging but also adapting our messages and creating new communication activities such as regular press releases, as well as glossy, informative brochures specifically for the conference and member acquisition. All of these changes were essential segments and were discussed during the strategic session held on the first day of our membership meeting. Two primary questions were asked: What is the DNA of Era Europe? and What is the future of our Association?
U.S. and European development
During the discussion, the board assessed the US development and compared both markets with regards to factors and the use of technology and media consumption. It seemed clear that the US development will happen in Europe as well, but market by market and with varying degrees of speed. The conclusion was that the distinction between business models will vanish and that all businesses will be media usage platforms and therefore omni- or multi-channel.
New Mission Statement
ERA Europe´s mission is to represent the multi-channel home shopping industry.
New Value Statement
The association is the voice and network for businesses that offer innovative products to consumers through audio visual presentation. We advocate and support the interests of our members and their customers in Europe.
The Association for the Multi-Channel Home Shopping Industry.
A new tag line was needed to explain exactly what we are, as our brand 'The Electronic Retailing Association' is not self-explanatory in that respect.
Creation of a new mission and value statement
Unlike other industries, there have never been any reservations to using a platform for consumer contact. We are the in-store video, POS, catalogue, TV, online, mobile and interactive industry. We are, and have always been, the channel to the consumer, therefore we are the multi-channel industry. What makes this industry different to other POS or e.g. online business is our ability to explain a product, to tell a story and in particular, to create an emotional link between the consumer and the product through a video clip which results in an impulse purchase. We own the specific knowledge for the type of product where such a relationship can be created and we understand our customer enabling us to present the product message that must be conveyed. These were the resulting considerations for the creation of a new mission and value statement.
New Public Affairs Guidelines
Related to these issues were the Public Affair guidelines (see the public affairs bulletin) which were agreed upon during the Membership Meeting as well as procedures for our Public Relations work.
Financial Development of the Association
The final statement for 2015 and the budget 2016 were reviewed and unanimously approved.
As can be seen in the Graph 1, regarding the financial development, at the beginning of 2014 we began to rebuild the cash reserves of the association and are now closer to the targeted 50% reserves in relation to the planned yearly expenses. (This is a “minimum” and best practice amount to be prepared for any unforeseen event or extraordinary expenses). As an initial step we already began in 2015 to invest in Public Relations services. The targeted surplus for 2016 is now smaller than in previous years, as we have identified Government Affairs as another opportunity to invest in. Introducing the ERA Europe Industry awards EMMA is another investment which we have determined to be important. This is not only to create an event honouring outstanding achievements, but also to serve as a platform to deliver our message that we are the creative and successful multi-channel Home Shopping Industry.
Admission of new ERA members
Another agenda point was the admission of new members by the General Assembly. I am pleased to confirm that unanimously the General Assembly decided to admit the following new members:
Fine Trade GmbH from Austria
Excellent Brands (formerly HSP Hanse Shopping GmbH) from Germany
PVD Pharma Vertrieb Deutschland AG from Germany
Open Media Network (prev. Antena TV Group) from Romania
Bctv Imp. D.o.o. (previously Shop Television, Italy) from Slovenia
SANKOM Switzerland from Switzerland
Smart Response from the UK.
Local Lisbon highlights
Believe it or not we also actually found some free time to see the city in the evenings. The “Bistro 100 Maneiras” and the “Time Out” market hall were highlights with incredible ambiance and brilliant local dishes.