One often hears that trade fairs are changing from product shows into marketing platforms. It is true that less of an emphasis is being placed on comprehensive presentations of products and services. But products are not about to disappear, and nor should they – they are the heart of every fair. After all, the strength of trade fairs lies precisely in combining face-to-face conversations with the opportunity to examine real products. Here the focus is often less on today’s products and more on the products, processes and services of the future.
For visitors the most important aim at trade fairs is to experience new products, and for exhibitors the presentation of new products and services is one of the four most important aims.
One might object that some worldwide innovations are no longer being presented at trade fairs these days but rather at lavish company events, especially in the consumer electronics industry. But that is by no means the rule, and only affects a small percentage of such products. Moreover, even in the past it was never the case that all new products were presented at trade fairs. At any rate, this function of trade fairs is as relevant as ever, precisely for small and medium-sized companies. Many large companies also use trade fairs as a stage for their B2B communications, in order to introduce their innovations to an audience of specialists.
Studies by AUMA have shown that the current objectives of exhibitors and visitors reflect the importance of innovations. Some of these objectives are relevant in different ways, of course, depending on whether they are viewed from the perspective of providers or consumers. But both sides largely agree on one point: innovations are very high on the agenda.
For visitors the most important aim at trade fairs is to experience new products, and for exhibitors the presentation of new products and services is one of the four most important and nearly equal aims: trade fairs always include a focus on the future of the respective sector, on what additional benefits arise from newly developed products and on when these products will become established. Trade fairs also highlight the latest research results that will soon lead to new products and processes. Trade fair organisers support this in numerous ways. They award prizes for innovative technologies and designs, often in cooperation with professional associations or trade journals. They offer space for special presentations and exhibitions that address the future of the sector. And they support universities and research institutes that offer their own glimpses of the product worlds of the future.
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