The functions of trade fairs

Of all marketing instruments, trade fairs have by far the broadest range of functions. They directly affect business administration, national economies and society as a whole.

Business management functions

Trade fairs serve to establish and maintain customer relations, find business partners and personnel, and position companies as a whole. As test markets for new products, they are also market research instruments. They enable companies to raise name recognition levels, analyse competitive environments and prepare to sell products and services. Just visiting trade fairs can pay off for young companies, for example in the early stages of entering markets.

Trade fair as a communication tool

For companies that exhibit at trade fairs, trade fair participation is the most important instrument of their B2B communication. A few months before the Corona pandemic, in November 2019, 500 representatively selected German companies that primarily exhibit at B2B trade fairs were surveyed. The result once again impressively showed the fundamentally strong anchoring of the trade fair as an instrument in German companies.

Accordingly, German companies are frequently represented at trade fairs with their own stands. The number of trade fair participations increases significantly with the turnover of the companies: a company with a turnover of over 125 million euros per year participates in an average of 31 trade fairs in two years.

More than a quarter of the German exhibiting companies (29 percent) wanted to invest more money in trade fair participations at home and abroad in 2020 and 2021. 53 per cent of the companies planned the same level of expenditure and only 17 per cent wanted to reduce their trade fair budget.

Overall economic functions

Trade fairs benefit their exhibitors and visitors, but also the economies around their host cities and even their respective states and countries. They generate strong secondary effects, especially for the hotel, restaurant and transport sectors. They are also very beneficial to companies that provide valuable services to trade fair organisers and exhibitors, in fields such as stand design and construction, logistics, translation and interpreting, and hosting.

Regional economic effects can be five to sevenfold the sales for organisers, especially if the exhibition venues have a strong international focus. Trade fairs therefore ensure many jobs in their regions, particularly for medium-sized companies.

Social functions

Trade fairs have always been centres of knowledge – of information that is prepared, cultivated and placed in helpful contexts. As our society becomes ever more knowledge-based, information has become a crucial resource. Producing, selecting, filtering and channelling it has thereby become one of the most important activities of national economies. As a result, ever more conferences are being held in conjunction with exhibitions, and vice versa, as vibrant and immediate ways of conveying knowledge.

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