The most current function of trade fairs it is much more than presenting a range of competing products or offering the possibility of placing orders.
The innovation experience, i.e. the opportunity to evaluate the innovativeness of suppliers and to obtain an immersion in the future, is in fact the indispensable objective that moves the business communities that periodically meet in these places.
To those who are still wondering why in the digital age there is a return on companies’ investments in collective events, we suggest focusing on visitors' motivations, especially business visitors.
There are two types of interests that move the visitor-buyers. First, they are interested in meeting individual suppliers, current or potential. Here, the stand is the open place of comparison, the moment of periodic evaluation of the exhibitor's ability to "stay on the frontier of innovation", and to deserve the trust of the buyer for the following year. The comparison made by the buyer - a ritual that is repeated every year at the time of product renewal - is not in fact about price or product specifics (which can easily be found online), but above all about the supplier/exhibitor's potential for partnership and innovation, i.e. the ability to offer the buyer specialized skills, technological and stylistic innovations with specific applications, knowledge of consumer trends, and so on. These complex skills and their credibility are first of all assessable in the characteristics of the products, but they are fully perceptible only in the physical meeting with the company's people, with R&D technicians, with prototypes, with new proposals, with discussions with other customers. And it is precisely this physicality of the booths that - transferred on a collective level, i.e. in the overall vision of all the suppliers in the sector - responds to the second motivation of the visitor/buyer of the specialized trade shows: the possibility of perceiving the great trends of innovation and competition that move the sector, allowing him to make his own strategic choices for the future.
The opportunities are also supported by the context formats proposed by the most sophisticated organizers with extreme solutions of hybridization between products (see CES Las Vegas), trend area and diving into consumer experiences (see Maison&Object Paris), inserts of film festivals on costume (see Pitti Immagine), etc.
They are also strongly enriched by out-of-show events, made up of cultural interventions of the cities and producers' associations, as well as the recreational events of individual exhibitors.
Finally, they are supported by the resonance on social media and the immediate reactions that these media gather.
Ultimately, trade fairs are successful because information and knowledge as sophisticated as expectations about the future cannot be digitized, they are tacit, they are in the air, and are therefore left only to the perception of the visitor who is offered a physical encounter with the complexity of the business.
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