CITEM promotes PH goods, services at online exhibitions

The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotion arm of the Department of Trade and Industry, will continue to bring in online exhibitions as it pivots to address the needs of exporters amid the pandemic.

Charles Bautista, manager of Communications and Creative Services Department of CITEM, said the agency has pipelined this year the development of a platform or websites for FOODPhilippines, a banner brand the government uses to promote food from the country across the different trade fairs.

Bautista said it is also building websites for Sustainability Solutions Expo (SSX) and CREATEPhilippines which serve as community building and buyer matching platforms similar to FAME+.

“In embracing the digital landscape, CITEM aims to intensify and enhance its digital presence to the latest digital marketing tools in partnership with leading developers, content creators, (and) digital advertising specialists. The agency envisions its platforms to be top of mind as the sourcing portal for the specified expert categories that we currently manage,” he said.

Launched in October 2020, FAME+ is CITEM’s response to the evolving and rapidly digitizing demands of trade and export. The digital trade platform improves the searchability and discoverability of its exhibitors from the home, fashion, and lifestyle sectors to buyers and design enthusiasts across the globe.

“We noticed that in the digital marketing sphere, a lot of our buyers are really interested not just in the materials that we use because the Philippines is really known for its material manipulation and creativity, but they are also interested in the stories behind the brands especially for the micro, small and medium scale enterprises whose humble beginnings have really shape the character of the products or the service that they provide,” Bautista said.

He said the platform is aimed to build a community of buyers, sellers, and stakeholders from the different government agencies, business support organizations (BSOs) with Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT) and other export enablers such as logistics companies, banks, and financial institutions.

This will create a hub for online events like webinars on market trends, design forecasts, consumer behavior and market intelligence, he added.

“Online fashion shows and brand presentations are also some of the things that we are looking at. Online incubation and mentorship programs which we have done with PHx Tokyo is something that we are looking at, improving and expanding in the next couple of years, “Bautista said.

He said CITEM is also keen on online product development programs helping exporters create new and innovative products.

“So that when we export in the global market, it is not just the same things that we’re exposing our buyers,” he added.

Bautista said the agency is also complementing its digital trade community platform with real-time content in social media presence to further promote and capitalize on digital marketing.

“Now we are also venturing into messaging apps like viber and building viber communities for these platforms. The idea really is to make content available to our stakeholders when it’s really most convenient for them,” he said.

Aside from digital trade community platforms, Bautista said it is looking at participating and creating hybrid trade events, a mix of a physical/live presence and a virtual presence in a traditional event, given imposed health protocols amid the coronavirus.

“So hybrid events, along with pure digital events, are being undertaken by various organizers to fill the absence of the face-to-face events. So hybrid and digital events will continue to be part of the exhibition industry even after the pandemic,” he said.

Bautista said the agency has likewise digital trade events that run in an online environment for a limited period of time.

“Digital trade events can be accessed anytime, anywhere. While they can’t fully replicate the live demos, sideline networking and product sampling can take place at in-person event that they can facilitate through direct interaction between the exhibitor and their buyer with interactive features such as live chats, chat rooms, we have one-on-one or group video calls, Q&As (question and answer), live webinars,” he said.

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