Are trade fairs still relevant ? In this age of Internet and electronic commerce - how valid are trade fairs ? Let us examine the issue threadbare
Trade fair is a rather expensive marketing channel. Besides, substantial monetary investment, one needs to sort out considerable logistics challenges. In case you are participating in overseas trade fairs, challenges are manifold such as visa clearance, sorting out language barrier, on-site trade promotion etc.
Even after attending to all these troubles and spending considerable sum of money - you are still not sure what kind of return to expect on investment. Naturally, one would expect popularity of trade fairs to diminish with time.
However, what we see on ground is just opposite - trade fairs are getting increasingly popular all over the world.
In the USA alone, an estimated 9,000 trade shows or fairs attract over 65 million visitors per year. The Canton fair in China is a legend. Ministry of Commerce (China) has been organizing this fair since 1957 and is considered one of the most successful trade event anywhere in the world. Spread over an area of 630,000 square meter, 15,000 exhibitors with their 41,000 stands display over 150,000 varieties of products to visitors from over 203 countries.
Trade fair is quite popular among Indian manufacturers - a fact evident from resounding success of Indian Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) who organizes more than 50 trade fairs and exhibitions every year.
Why Trade Fairs are So Important ?
A survey conducted by the Emnid Institute (Germany) during October� 2004 on behalf of AUMA (Ausstellungs- und Messe-Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft) asked 500 companies to rate the importance of communication tools in their communication mix using a scale ranging from 1 = very important to 5 = totally unimportant. Following is the result of this survey:
Reason for such popularity of Trade Fairs is not far to seek. Ask any marketing guru what he/she considers the most important elements of any marketing drive and the answer will be
Trade Fair as Communication Tool
When it comes to effectiveness (range) and efficiency, trade fairs are the communication tool of choice as they allow companies to interact with customers one-to-one and collect live market feedback.
Trade fair is a reflection of physical world - a replica of actual market in an easy to handle form. It brings representatives from the supply and demand sides of an industry together on same platform for a limited period of time. It gives participants comprehensive market information and serves as a platform for business contacts.
At the same time, trade fairs allow companies to use complete range of marketing tools that they have at their disposal. Instruments that promote sales - known as the marketing mix - related to product, price, distribution and communication policy. When a company participates in a trade fair, all of these areas are simultaneously activated and focused on specific target groups.
Should You Participate or Just Attend ?
This is a very crucial question every business must address. If you are making initial forays in a target market and your main objective is to understand market dynamics, then simple attendance may be the right choice. In any case, it is most sensible to attend a trade fair several times before deciding to participate. There are several trade fairs directory to help you locate right fairs for your products.
However, if you already have some presence in a target market and plan to consolidate this market presence with more customers, agents, distributors, PR media etc. � then participation may yield rich dividend.
For example, if you have several customers in a target country, who are geographically dispersed � participation in a trade show may be a cost effective option as you are not only demonstrating commitment to the market, raising your profile and enjoying other benefits of exhibiting, but you are also potentially saving time and money from having to fly all over the country to meet your customers in their home territory.
Trade fair is a formidable marketing option for any business - provided it is used most judiciously and after much deliberation. Careful planning and execution is essential for ensuring a healthy return from this sizable investment. No business can afford to rule out this marketing option, nor can it afford to adopt in haste.
Happy and Productive Surfing
Dr. Amit K Chatterjee