The stone industry once again joined together in Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil, for Vitória Stone Fair | Marmomacc the Latin America, which was held from February 16 to 19, 2016. A region rich in stone production, Espírito Santa sets the tone for the promotion of natural stone.

Facing an economy in recession and a currency devaluation never seen in Brazil, many entrepreneurs had to slow down in 2015, according to show organizer, Milanez & Milaneze, in partnership with VeronaFiere. “Exceeding expectations on the local market and knowing how to deal with the international market, the stone sector had to reinvent itself,” stated Milanez & Milaneze. “The exchange rate differences introduced an important component and proof that everything was fine at the 41st edition of Vitória Stone Fair | Marmomacc Latin America.”

This year’s event attracted approximately 25,500 visitors, with foreign attendees coming from 60 different countries. The U.S. comprised 25% of attendance, followed by large showings from Italy, China and Spain.

“The results are very positive,” stated Tales Machado, the President of Sindirochas (Stone Association from Espírito Santo). “In fact, every year, the number of visitors increases during the event. This year, we received buyers from new markets, such as Trinidad Tobago, that participated for the first time in the Vitória Stone Fair. Besides the presence of international delegations, there was also a significant presence of the local market.”

For Cecilia Milanez, director of Milanez & Milaneze, the fair offered attendees a diverse range of new materials and technology. “The show surprised visitors and buyers seeking new materials, equipment and technology innovation,” she said. “We had a large number of international and national visitors. These results reinforce the importance of an international fair in Brazil. Today we can say that the event is a showcase of Brazilian dimensional stones.”

Natural Stone Promotional Campaign

This was the second consecutive year the MIA+BSI exhibited at the show. The organization is dedicated to unifying the stone industry, and was successful in gaining several new members. MIA president David Castellucci and MIA+BSI CEO Jim Hieb provided a keynote address about the MIA+BSI’s Natural Stone Promotional Campaign to a standing room only crowd interested in learning about the launch of and the success of several positive stories about natural stone published in key consumer and architectural magazines.

This keynote address and key industry meetings held at Vitoria Stone Fair served as the backdrop for perhaps the biggest story of collaboration the natural stone industry has seen since 2008. Shortly after M S International (MSI) announced the initial financial pledge to support the MIA+BSI-led Natural Stone Promotional Campaign, approximately 25 members of Centrorochas (Brazil’s The Center for Exporting Industries of Dimension Stones) were the first companies outside of North America to join the industry initiative. The combined MSI and Centrorochas pledges — along with support from Daltile, Polycor, Pedrini, Tenax and others — provided the seed monies to launch the multi-year campaign.

The real impact of the campaign will be seen in the spring of 2016 as campaign content will begin to be shared with stone companies for redistribution on social media and other online outlets. MIA+BSI is also building a database of marketing professionals who are sharing story ideas and pictures to be used in the campaign. “It is exciting to see an article published in a magazine that reaches 500,000 people, but it is more exciting when that same article is redistributed on social media sites where the impact is much larger,” said Hieb.

The viral marketing component of the campaign is vitally important when you recognize that over 43% of all consumer buying decisions are made from research done online.” The online component of the campaign allows for a global impact.

The Vitoria Stone Fair also introduced the first winners of MIA’s 2015 Kitchen of the Year, Tithof Tile & Marble in Northbrook, IL, and Bath of the Year, Walker Zanger in Sun Valley, CA, Pinnacle award winners. Both awards were sponsored by the Fair and included travel arrangements to attend the event/show. The success of both awards prompted the Vitoria Stone Fair to commit to support both awards again for 2016. MIA+BSI will soon announce the Call for Entries for 2016 consideration.