Interpreting Trade Show Economics

A Comparative Analysis (2015-2016)

The economic crisis in 2008 caused a massive turmoil in the marketing industry. People were hesitant in putting their trust and money in various marketing platforms.This was also true for the trade show marketing industry which suffered significant fallout due to collapsing businesses. Seven years later Trade Shows, now considered one of the most effective marketing media are thriving irrespective of annual economic fluctuations. This report tries to fathom the reasons behind the high effectiveness of trade show marketing and its growth independent of the current consumer marketing scenario. We also try to predict the trends of trade show marketing 2016 when compared to the previous year.

2015 was a very average year for the economy as well as the trade show industry in general. The slight growth rate of 3.1% (IMF 2015) led to stagnation in industry growth and expansion. On the other hand 2016 so far has been quite promising for businesses and markets alike. The International Monetary Fund has projected an economic growth rate of 3.6% this year. This seems like an insignificant increase and might make you uneasy about investing further in the face to face marketing platform.

To address any concerns you have and provide an accurate representation of the current condition of the trade show marketing, our team of experts analyzed the data published by the magazine EXHIBITOR in its 2016, March issue.

Given below is our analysis on this year’s Trade Show Economics that takes into account the data provided below as well as our observations regarding trade shows till July 2016.

The Budget

Trade Show Budget

Overview of the given data indicates that 65 to 70 percent of exhibitors plan on maintaining their spending while approximately 20% plan on increasing their budget in 2016.Upon closer scrutiny, we see a trend among exhibitors who have capped their spending to reallocate funds to Exhibition design and size while cutting down on shipping and staffing costs.

This proves the importance of trade show booth designs in the face to face marketing platforms, primarily Exhibitions. This trend is further highlighted by the fact that of all the Exhibitors surveyed 25% definitely plan on investing in a new trade show booth while a further 30% plan to over the next 12 months.

Exhibitions VS The Economy

The investigation into the relationship between economy and the perceived effectiveness of trade shows as a marketing medium yielded interesting but expected results.

Exhibitions Vs Economy

While only 50% of all experts surveyed were hopeful and optimistic regarding the economy, more than 90% affirmed their faith in Trade shows by stating that International Exhibitions were still considered to be the most effective marketing media.

Less than 2% of the businesses surveyed were not happy with their trade show investments. This goes to prove that for a vast majority of businesses Trade Shows remain the most efficient and viable of the marketing platforms.


For every company directly marketing to the world, expanding the identity of their brand will always remain a priority. To evaluate the effect of Exhibitions on a company’s branding Exhibitors who showcased themselves to the world in 2015 were asked about the confidence they have regarding the success of their trade show program in 2016.


A staggering 85% of the businesses were confident that they would have a better showing at 2016 trade shows as compared to 2015 Exhibitions. Less than 1% felt extremely doubtful about the Effectiveness of trade shows in brand expansion.

Trade Shows and Other Media

To compare the effectiveness of trade shows on other media promotion platforms, Exhibitors were asked about their plans for investing in the following marketing media as compared to 2015.

Trade Show Media

Upon careful examination of the data, the following comes to light:

Trade shows cut across marketing models: trade shows seem to be a marketing choice irrespective of other marketing media for a large number of companies. Of all the Trade Show managers interviewed 27% did not consider at least one of the given marketing tools to be worth investing.

This goes to show that trade shows remain the most relied upon platforms for face to face marketing even among companies relying on very different marketing models.

Hesitation in monetary investment: Even though an average of 25% exhibitors interviewed asserted to increasing their spending in media other than trade show marketing, careful analysis of the data revealed that increase was predicted in areas that did not require a lot of investment both in terms of time and money. On the other hand, Exhibitors are ready to invest substantially in trade shows with over 50% planning on new exhibit by the end of 2016.

This further emphasizes the fact that trade show marketing remains a profitable business to business platform garnering a high return on investment.

Trade Show Investments and Return:

The exhibitors were asked about the various sectors of investment during a trade show event as well as the percentage of the budget allotted to each.

Trade Show Branding

The majority of the trade show budget is utilized in aspects that provide a direct return either monetarily or in the form of qualified leads. Many of the trade show expenses like shipping and lodging can be altered significantly without compromising the quality of the Exhibit. Most exhibitors agree that barring static investments like Exhibit space subletting and trade show booth design every other aspect of trade show marketing is adjustable according to the current economic constraints of the market.

Our analysis backs the fact that veteran Exhibitors and new business alike consider trade shows to be the current marketing standard which provides a powerful yet economically flexible platform for branding as well as marketing new products and services.

Source: All the raw data has been taken from Exhibitor Online Magazine.

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