Last week our team traveled to Frankfurt for CPHI 2022 – it was a great chance to explore what’s new in the outsourcing space, listen to thought-provoking presentations and make connections face-to-face with leading life science organizations, in addition to catching up with clients and seeing friends from the sector – some of whom we’d not seen since pre-pandemic.

With a jam-packed schedule of meetings, PR and media opportunities to manage, alongside client meetings, dinners, and new business development activities, we asked our team about their thoughts on CPHI and the learnings they’ll take to future events…

Here are our top 10 takeaways from CPHI Frankfurt 2022:

1. Covid is definitely still a topic of conversation for the industry, a testament to its monumental impact. Covid also impacted some media opportunities with journalists who were unable to attend the event due to testing positive, a sobering reminder that the virus continues to impact our working lives!

2. Organizations are developing their brands, with more colorful stands and experimental palettes springing up throughout the Messe. This was great to see and made a change from the more conventional sea of blues and greens that we’re used to seeing in our sector – muted colorways were still present but not as abundant as in previous years. Some brands braved bolder colors with purples, yellows, and pinks making a welcome appearance.

3. Seeing clients face to face is unmatched – our team thoroughly enjoyed making in-person connections and everyone agreed that outside of CPHI it’s hard to find such an international event where people can network with professionals from every corner of the globe.

4. There’s a definite shift from CDMOs and other contract service organizations working with big pharma clients to supporting small biotechs and emerging biopharma. Our team and plenty of connections noticed this trend and lots of conversations were dominated by this theme.

5. Companies still need to work harder on differentiating themselves from the pack, as similar messaging and information overload can be confusing to potential clients. Our team spotted stands with varying levels of content but few had got the balance right. It was great to see a step-change in brand visuals as organizations mature, which although dependent on budget, it’s clear that some brands are late to evolve.

6. Sustainability was a key theme for many of the presentations and attendee discussions – but evidence of companies demonstrating their commitment to sustainability was scarce. It would be nice to see sustainability in action and learn more about how companies are approaching a greener and cleaner way of doing things.

7. Exhibitors had really gone to town with their stands this year – we saw lots more informal stands and social spaces with more of a ‘cafe bar’ environment and the introduction of soft seating and waiting areas. We also noted more innovative uses of technology including VR, photo booths and even tombolas and prize giveaways for engagement.

8. The catering budget for many exhibitors had clearly been increased! From refreshments and snacks to full blown dining options, attendees were treated to plenty of hot and cold beverage options on stands. One exhibitor even had a full leg of Spanish serrano ham for people to slice.

9. Navigating the Messe remains a challenge and despite having a large team presence across the 3 days we still found getting from Hall 3 to 9 and beyond a challenge. Our collective step count was well over 20,000 per day and zipping between halls for meetings proved tricky – so it’s definitely worth leaving 20 to 30 minutes between meetings to get from A to B and leaving some breathing space in your schedule for ad-hoc conversations.

10. If you’re a tea or decaf coffee drinker, the Messe doesn’t cater well for you. Anyone considering exhibiting in future years should think about alternatives to coffee and caffeine – you could use this as a stand USP and make yourself very popular as a result.

Read a summary of thoughts from our team members:

Olivia Addinall, Account Director:

“CPHI for me has been amazing! It went so fast because there seemed to be so much going on from interesting talks to lively drinks events – it definitely feels like events are finally back!

It was interesting to see how brands were brought to life creatively at their booths – I would love to see more focus on sustainability and brands adapting their stand designs to really demonstrate their dedication to becoming more sustainable.

The highlight for me was seeing so many clients in person in the space of a couple of days. My only lowlight was the travel time between halls and naively thinking I could wear heels on day one…!”

Laura Child, Head of Research & Strategy:

“It was beyond wonderful to meet clients face-to-face after having worked with them for a few years.

The shift from big pharma to small biotechs and emerging biopharma is not a surprise, but it does change things – so understanding the audience, how to reach them and how to speak to them is going to become even more important.”

Eleanor Harms, Senior Commercial Manager:

“It’s been a great opportunity to see our clients and I’ve had some really positive conversations from a BD point of view, with lots of companies thinking about plans for next year.

It’s been invaluable to connect with prospects in person as it’s a great way to build initial relationships and to understand organizations through what they’re doing on their stand.”

Lindsay Baldry, Head of Campaign Quality:

“I was really proud to see the PR team in action and to secure so many media opportunities for our clients. It was lovely to host a drinks event with so many journalists and media contacts – a great way to cement relationships and to understand future features and publication plans.” 

This year sustainability came up in all the journalist interviews I oversaw, with one client saying ‘sustainability is no longer a choice’.”

Aranda Rahbarkouhi, PR Manager:

“CPHI was the best sector event I’ve attended so far – I got to travel with a team I love, hear inspiring pharma stories from around the world, meet clients face-to-face and learn so much. 

A highlight for me was seeing so many of our clients in press coverage and Show Dailies, and securing video interviews.”

Well there you have it – another year, another CPHI done and dusted. 

We had such an amazing time catching up with clients old and new, building connections and exploring new trends and emerging technologies. There was certainly a sense of optimism and the industry appears prepared for future challenges more so than ever.

A key takeaway is an appreciation that it remains difficult to find your differentiated space in a niche sector.  With so many stands using the same messaging, language, and straplines it is vital to engage with an agency partner who will take the time to research internal and external brand perceptions, in order to get your brand story straight. Finding the words that really bring an authentic voice to your brand is so important and is certainly something our expert team can help with.

If you’d like to learn more about our services and how we can help you get noticed in life sciences, reach out to our friendly team for a chat.

See you all next year! 

Get in touch. To discuss your 2023 event plans, branding, and marketing needs. You’ll get a prompt reply from a real person. We’re ready when you are.