Edited by Gary L. Lilien and Rajdeep Grewal
Chapter 13: Trade Shows in the Business Marketing Communications Mix
Srinath Gopalakrishna and Gary L. Lilien Trade shows have long been used as a forum for promoting sales of a variety of products, dating back to medieval times when artisans and village folk exhibited their wares at local fairs. Those fairs were a relatively inexpensive, yet convenient, way for local producers to gain access to large numbers of potential buyers who came to attend the events from neighboring towns and villages. That flavor has essentially remained unchanged as trade shows continue to occupy a prominent position within the B2B communications mix. Trade shows also have a characteristic that differentiates them from personal selling, the dominant element in the B2B marketing mix: they bring current and prospective customers to the seller rather than vice versa. Industry surveys during the past decade repeatedly show that over 80 per cent of the attendees at a typical show have some influence on the eventual purchase decision and more than 50 per cent of show visitors have specific plans to buy one or more products exhibited at a show within the next 12 months (www.exhibitsurveys.com/trends). Such a high concentration of interested buyers and sellers in a setting that lasts several days, combined with the opportunity for meaningful face-to-face contact, creates a powerful forum for marketing communications. Trade shows are big business. In 2009 the trade show industry in North America attracted over 60 million attendees and 1.5 million exhibitors, generating an estimated revenue of nearly $11.2 billion (CEIR 2010a). In the United States, Canada and...
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