In addition to providing trade show displays and services, members of the Exhibit Systems team often accompany clients on the show floor. When he’s not in the office, Exhibit Systems Sales Executive Mark Mittelstadt is one of our proverbial road warriors.
His most recent trip was to the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, Calif., where he assisted a number of our food-related clients. Fancy Food is the largest food show on the west coast, with more than 1,300 exhibitors representing 35 countries and regions.
We asked Mark to share his observations from this show:
Q: Was there anything of note that struck you about the Fancy Food show?
A: We definitely noted a comeback of buyers representing smaller venues. This was a food industry show, so we expected the “big box” buyers – the Krogers, the Whole Foods, the Targets – to be there, and they were. But there was also a nice plethora of smaller buyers, too. That’s a distinct change from the previous few shows.
Q: What do you think caused this change? Is it tied to the economy?
A: Yes. Even in difficult economic times, and regardless of the industry, you expect the big buyers to be in attendance. Because they represent bigger corporations, these buyers have the budget to attend the shows. They definitely want to as well – this is a time when they can leverage the fact that the smaller competitors can’t be there, so they have some additional negotiating power. That’s what we’ve been seeing; it’s expected during the lean times. Based on what I saw at the Fancy Food show, the cycle has definitely changed. The floor is once again populated by smaller buyers.
Q: Any thoughts on how vendors should approach buyers?
A: Buyers representing larger organizations obviously mean larger orders. But it’s important not to put all your eggs in one proverbial basket. If you lose a smaller buyer, you’re not looking at a significant loss to your business. If you only focus on the big orders, losing one or two of them can really do some damage and leave you scrambling to make your sales numbers. Trade shows give your business the opportunity to cultivate a wide range of customers, large and small, in one venue.
Q: How do you think the industry as a whole is doing?
A: The trade show industry is not recession proof, but it is recession resistant. Lean times have their benefits for certain types of buyers. That helps buoy trade shows, regardless of what industry they represent. The fact that we are seeing wider buyer representation at Fancy Food and other trade shows reflects the health of the trade show industry. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research notes that the industry as a whole is in its 13th consecutive quarter of growth. We’re seeing that at the shows I attend.
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