With an unprecedented scale, AWE 2017 flexes its muscles to the world as one of the world’s top three home appliance and consumer electronics shows. Jiang Feng, the founder of AWE, has a grand blueprint that goes as far as her ambition.

Jiang has just finished her tour with an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences at AWE 2017 when I meet her. Expanded to 8 exhibition halls, this year’s AWE is not an easy tour to walk through, and it’s even more so when you study the show as an industry insider. After days of show preparation and several meetings, Jiang looks a bit weary, but when it comes to AWE, she radiates with excitement. And for this interview, she shares with me her view of what AWE has achieved by far, AWE’s contributions to smartization and innovation, and China’s position in global home appliance industry, and reveals her visions of AWE’s future.

What makes AWE stand out?

With an exhibition area of 110,000 square meters, AWE 2017 witnesses more than 30,000 products from over 700 world renowned enterprises of home appliances and consumer electronics sector, and receives more than 200,000 domestic and international audiences, according to CHEAA’s rough statistics. AWE 2017 is raising its bar by exhibition scale, number of exhibitors and audiences.

AWE is not China’s only home appliances and electronics show, but it stands out as the country’s top one, even as CES and IFA extend their reach to China. What are AWE’s secret ingredients?

According to Jiang, back to 2011, AWE set itself apart from government-led exhibitions to be a market-driven show centering on new technologies and consumption trends. It goes beyond traditional products to include innovative products and new technologies that embody the latest achievements and trends of home appliances and electronics. This plays a positive role in industrial upgrading and consumption upgrading, and contributes to AWE’s status as China’s most popular show in this sector.

“Interaction and consumer experience are what we treasure.” Jiang says. AWE 2017 fully delivers her words: kitchen appliance enterprises invite chefs to offer delicious food coming right off their signature cookware; water purifier enterprises install water bars to provide free-of-charge beverages. And more interactive activities carried out onsite allow audiences to fully indulge themselves in this grand show.

Enterprises attach great importance to AWE, which plays an integral part to AWE’s rising recognition, Jiang points out. More and more enterprises prefer to roll out their blockbusters and new strategies at AWE 2017, which, as a result, brings an increased engagement of distributors and media. Before the official opening ceremony of AWE 2017, Haier and Midea kicked off their product release conferences, preparing the show with early popularity. During AWE 2017, nearly a hundred product release conferences are held, a phenomenon rarely seen even at IFA and CES.

“As the organizer, CHEAA has been committed to expanding AWE’s recognition globally, and including more consumers into this industry-insider-dominated activity.” Jiang says. With rising reputation, AWE attracts more and more international media, and sees more overseas dealers invited by enterprises.

To attract consumers, AWE spares no efforts. CHEAA brands AWE as a festival for the hosting city and a carnival for consumers. During AWE, ads and videos of AWE are displayed all across the city of Shanghai: the Beijing-Shanghai bullet trains, train stations, major railway lines, etc. The last exhibition day of AWE 2017 falls on March 11, a Saturday. Many kids are seen at AWE on this day along with their parents, making AWE’s audience base even younger.

Jiang summarizes AWE’s achievements as follows: “It evolves from an industry wide exhibition, to an exhibition that boasts recognition throughout social sectors domestically and internationally. More and more consumers come to AWE to see what future appliances look like and experience firsthand smart life scenarios.”

Smartness-oriented innovation that draws the world’s attention

Smartness has become a buzzword of AWE 2017. As a trend continuously heating up in recent years, smartization draws unprecedented attention this year.

Haier unveiled its first batch of 161 smart life scenarios based on its whole package of interconnectivity-enabled smart appliances on March 7. And Midea, on the same day, rolled out its smart life scenario of a “future kitchen”. During AWE 2017, a number of enterprises showcase their latest achievements and strategies surrounding smartization.

“The future world is all about smartness.” Jiang says. AWE acts as a platform that allows industry insiders and cross industry players to communicate and seek cooperation and therefore advance the development of smart technologies.

Also, at AWE 2017, CHEAA showcases the world’s first interconnectivity project. To address the interconnectivity of brands, CHEAA initiated a work group with Haier, Midea, BSH, TCL, Changhong, Hisense and Skyworth in 2015 and established a set of cloud-to-cloud standards in 2016. According to these standards, interconnectivity can be achieved through a cloud-to-cloud approach based on individual cloud platforms of enterprises. The standards cover requirements of user access, device access, service interface, device function model, information safety, etc. Under a unified conversion protocol, enterprises open interfaces of their cloud platforms to allow interconnectivity. At AWE 2017, a special zone is set to showcase what has been achieved through this project.

“This set of standards is strategic.” Jiang says. It breaks the isolated status of smart appliances of different brands and allows interconnectivity to happen.

The initiative of setting standards for cloud-to-cloud platforms is the very first in the world. This brings a smile to Jiang’s face, but she says out rightly that “this is only the very first step”, “we will further our efforts in these standards to provide better user experience”.

Jiang is thinking about expanding these standards globally.

Back to 2014, CHEAA initiated a Smart Appliance Work Group at The International Roundtable of Household Appliance Manufacturer Associations (IRHMA) in Brussels, in charge of establishing globally harmonized policies and standards concerning smart home appliances.

“It is a dream, or a goal of CHEAA, to achieve interconnectivity of smart home appliances worldwide through IRHMA.” Jiang says. To her, China can be a possible leader in this sector.

AWE’s contribution to China’s position in global home appliance industry

AWE 2017, as a grand event in home appliance and consumer electronics sector, is showcasing the innovation capability and new image of China’s home appliance players, says Jiang Feng at AWE 2017’s opening ceremony.

Through a supply-side reform domestically and an involvement in international competition, China’s home appliance industry has renewed its image and is set to achieve its goal of being a strong power as of 2020.

From Jiang’s point of view, AWE plays an integral role in this process. During the rise of China’s home appliance industry, a platform is needed to showcase the industry’s innovation results and cutting-edge products to the world. And AWE, with no doubt, shoulders this responsibility.

China’s industry players have long been learning from their western counterparts. But now, things have changed: more and more foreign invested enterprises come to AWE to take a look at China’s technology and innovation progress. What lie behind this change is AWE’s enhanced recognition, and more importantly, the extraordinary innovation capability of China’s home appliance industry. At AWE of this year, Karsten Ottenberg, Chairman of the board and Chief Executive of BSH Home Appliances Group, and Kazuhiro Tsuga, President of Panasonic, become AWE’s visitors.

Jiang believes that, AWE acts as a platform that showcases technologies and innovations, and integrates global resources to allow more communication and cooperation. For China’s home appliance industry, AWE plays as a booster in both supply side and demand side to advance the industrial transformation and upgrading, and the consumption upgrading.

Jiang, the one at the helm of AWE, has high expectations.

“AWE is improving step by step, year by year, with improved influence and more visitors. But it doesn’t mean AWE is perfect. I believe we still have many issues that need to be addressed.” Jiang says. Jiang believes that, AWE is getting close to IFA and CES by scale and exhibition deployment. “The biggest difference is global influence.”

Compared to these two long standing, globally recognized international shows, AWE is picking up fast to outpace them. AWE 2017 embraces a number of international brands, including Intel and Tesla. Many overseas audiences say they are “amazed”.

“I believe chances of AWE reaching to CES’s and IFA’s level, even outpacing them are high.” Jiang says.

AWE is going beyond home appliances and consumer electronics to include more cross-industry elements. When I ask about her vision of future AWE, Jiang says she wants to establish it to be a platform to showcase cutting-edge technologies and products, “a globally recognized smart life experience platform.”

Reporter: Chen Jianming from CHEAA.COM