Trade fairs are an excellent way of researching and entering foreign markets and should form a core part part of any exporting firm’s export marketing strategy. A trade fair represents a concentrated exhibition in space and time of the products and services of hundreds, even thousands, of producers. They are generally held annually and range from highly specialised events focusing on a single industry, such as the Futurex exhibition that is held in South Africa each year, to very general fairs such as our own Rand Easter Show.

Trade fairs provide an opportunity for companies to introduce their firms and products to the foreign marketplace and to check out the competition. The benefit of trade fairs is that it all happens under one roof, thereby saving you time and money in reaching prospective customers. Good trade fairs will attract many buyers and sellers together at one time and at one place and they therefore represent a concentrated market in which you can gather information, learn about the foreign marketplace and trends in the marketplace, get customer feedback on your export products, identify buyers and/or representatives, learn about the competition and their products and even take orders. In order to be successful with your trade fair, however, it is essential that you plan your exhibition properly. For this reason it is important to:

  1. Understand the different types of trade fairs
  2. Formulate your objectives for participating in a trade fair
  3. Select a trade fair that will meet your objectives
  4. Prepare a budget for your trade fair
  5. Book the stand
  6. Organise to participate in the trade fair
  7. Actually participate in the trade fair
  8. Ensure that you follow-up on your trade fair participation afterwards

We now move on to discuss each of these steps in more detail.