Advantages and disadvantages of trade fairs

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Advantages and disadvantages of trade fairs

This article aims to identify and explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of trade fairs. A trade fair is an exhibition where manufacturers show their products to other people in industry and try to get business (Harper Collins Publishers, n.d.). Trade fairs are organised so that companies in a particular industry can display their products and services to the potential buyers, study activities of competitors, and explore current market trends and opportunities. A trade fair is also known as trade show, exhibition, or expo.

Different types of trade fairs

There are three basic types of trade exhibitions i.e. exhibitions aimed only at the consumers, exhibitions aimed only at the businesses, and those aimed at and open to both. The third type is the most common (Lancaster & Reynolds, 2004).

Advantages of trade fairs

Trade fairs offer organisations and their representatives a good opportunity to meet potential customers, and general public. Likewise, they offer the general public and customers a good opportunity to raise issues of concern and discuss them with the representatives.

Organisations can deliver their messages directly to a large number of relevant and interested people. Face-to-face interactions are very effective to influence consumers’ decisions. Trade shows provide organisations opportunities to engage with their customers and general public directly and efficiently.

Organisations can raise awareness of their products and services by participating in trade shows. They can also assess the immediate reaction of the attendees by providing them with a feedback book. Similarly, they can increase their contacts and generate qualified sales leads.

Many trade fairs are open to a large and diverse range of target audiences. This certainly provides organisations with an opportunity to display and promote their products or service to a broader group of people that may have little or no knowledge of their products and services.

Disadvantages of trade fairs

Trade shows can often be very expensive. Organisations need to buy stand space, and pay for the stand designs. Likewise, they need to pay for the accommodation, food, and travel expenses for their representatives who take part at the trade shows. The cost of time out of the office also needs to be taken into account.

The possibility of being overshadowed by competitors is another disadvantage of trade fairs. It is very likely that an organisation’s major competitors are also exhibiting at the event. So, how will the organisation stand out and draw public attention to their stand? Not an easy job!

Participating in trade fairs may sometimes be very stressful and risky. Representatives may sometimes have to deal with hostile attendees whose reactions may be violent or negative. Moreover, by choosing an irrelevant trade show, organisations may display their products to the irrelevant and wrong audiences.

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Last update: 11 June 2019

References/Further reading:

Harper Collins Publishers (n.d.) Trade fair, available at: (accessed 09 June 2019)

Invest Northern Ireland (n.d.) Trade shows and exhibitions – Advantages and disadvantages of trade shows and exhibitions, available at: (accessed 09 June 2019)

Lancaster, G. & Reynolds, P. (2004) Marketing, 1st edition, New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Photo credit: Image Display & Graphics Ltd

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He is a graduate of Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.