Businesses have been using trade shows as their marketing strategy for years. Before the digital era, trade shows mostly generated leads and increased sales. Nowadays, their function has changed—these events can expand their audience, increase brand exposure, meet and greet customers, examine the market thoroughly, and analyze the competition.
Considering the digital world we live in, can we still say that trade shows are an effective marketing strategy? Are trade shows a possibility for people in the same industry to mingle and see what’s new?
Let’s dive into some of the most captivating trade show statistics and find out.
- Around 23% of meetings activity in North America are conferences and tradeshows.
- A staggering 92% of participants go to a trade show to find new products and services.
- The main cause of dissatisfaction for 45% of marketers.
- By 2023, the B2B trade show market is projected to reach 40 billion.
- This year, just 9% of marketers decided to expand their trade show budget.
- According to 59% of marketers, salespeople are the best booth staffers.
Let’s take a look at the most relevant statistics and facts to scratch the surface of this marketing strategy.
1. Conferences and tradeshows account for 23% of meeting activity in North America.
Trade shows and conferences are the most popular meeting activities in North America and Europe. The figure is about one-fifth—trade show trends show that Europe accounts for 20% of meetings activity, as well as in Central and South America.
2. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade shows fell by 63.8% in 2020.
In April 2020, about 750 festivals, including Glastonbury Festival and Coachella, had been postponed or canceled because of the global pandemic. According to event marketing statistics, live music, cinema, and trade shows have suffered the most in terms of revenue. The figures will improve over the years, but they won’t recover from the pre-pandemic situation before 2024.
3. 92% of attendees visit a trade show to look for new products and services.
Generating leads is the main benefit of exhibiting products and services at the trade show. However, only 13% оf соmраnіеѕ feature thеіr nеwest рrоduсtѕ and services. Adopting this marketing strategy can be beneficial, as most consumers go to these events to find new products. Whether they buy or not, more people will look at your trade show booth.
4. According to the latest trade show effectiveness statistics, only 3% of small businesses depend on trade shows to grow their business.
The report from Statista indicates that a whopping 51% of American small businesses rely on social media to improve their business, followed by 15% of public relations. Only 8% of them use email marketing and display advertising. It’s clear that only a minority of small companies adopt trade show marketing.
Not only do the following numbers demonstrate how many people participate in events, but also their preferences and satisfaction rates. Let’s take a look at the most relevant trade show statistics.
5. In 2020, US businesses participated in 16.2 national events.
A survey conducted by Statista reveals that, in 2020, American businesses took part in 7.8 regional shows, 5.9 national events, and 1.7 international events. Compared to previous years, these figures have fallen drastically. This is quite understandable since these trade show attendance trends were calculated in the first quarter of 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak.
6. 92% of marketers prefer small trade shows to bigger ones.
The majority of marketers consider small trade shows a much better investment for three main reasons. 75% of the respondents believe that these events help them connect to trade show attendees, 67% think they allow them to secure thought leadership speaking roles, while half of them assume that they host receptions or events with much less competition.
7. 45% of marketers feel disappointed by the high cost of participation.
Although the satisfaction rate is usually positive among participants, these trade show attendance trends explain why participants feel disappointed when taking part in a major international event. About 45% of them complain about the high cost of attendance and not getting the right spot during the conference. Roughly 36% of them cited low-valued leads.
8. As demonstrated by convention attendance statistics, the average attendee spends 8.3 hours viewing exhibitions.
During the whole exhibition, businesses get many opportunities to connect with potential customers. People tend to spend, on average, more than eight hours looking for new products and services at a trade show. These trade show statistics emphasize the importance of displaying goods that capture people’s attention.
9. 34% of Americans are very satisfied with their experience at trade shows.
Overall, the global population is satisfied with what they view at trade shows. Additionally, 38% of Americans are fairly satisfied, while only 1% are not satisfied at all. This trade show research indicates that the level of satisfaction is nearly the same in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Asia Pacific.
Obviously, the trade show industry is not going to disappear any soon. But are businesses suffering financial losses from it?
Let’s see what the numbers say.
10. 31% of marketers agree that events are the single most effective marketing strategy.
Events such as trade shows, conventions, and conferences are crucial to doing business. Trade show stats demonstrate that these shows mostly generate new business opportunities. Lead generation and face-to-face customer meetings also represent a big part of this marketing strategy.
11. The B2B trade show market value will reach 40 billion by 2023.
Globally, the B2B trade show market had a value of $34.4 billion in 2018. It can be seen that the global trade show market size has increased over the past years. This figure is expected to rise even more by 2023. Moreover, B2B trade shows constitute 82% of all exhibits.
12. Over 75% of B2C marketers use email marketing to promote their events.
Unsurprisingly, email is the most traditional marketing tool used for trade shows. General trade show statistics show that more than seven in ten B2C marketers adopt email marketing. However, 50% of them struggle with finding prospects that reply to their emails.
What is the average ROI and revenue coming from this industry? How much do marketers allocate for event planning and organization?
Let’s find out.
13. 16% of the total responding planners, marketers, and executives measured trade show ROI by attendance numbers.
The report from Statista suggests that attendance is the leading ROI metric of exhibitions. The average ROI for trade shows is less than 20%, considering all attendees and event executives. Other metrics used to define the ROI of a trade show is attendee satisfaction, generated leads, revenue, and budget.
14. In 2021, only 9% of marketers increased their trade show budget.
According to a survey by Statista, 51% of marketers, representing the majority of respondents, planned to decrease their trade show budget due to the pandemic. Trade show statistics for 2021 demonstrate that 31% of respondents planned to maintain their budget, while only the remaining 8% did not provide any information about their decision.
15. 74% of attendees admit that engaging with branded event marketing experiences convinced them to purchase a product.
This statistic emphasizes the effectiveness of trade shows—promoting a product at an event will influence most people’s purchasing decisions. However, 25% of people feel the same about the product, even after being advertised. Only 1% are less likely to buy the product after seeing it at a trade show.
After getting a good grasp of statistics and data about trade show attendance, marketing, growth, and revenue, here’s a list of trade shows by industry.
16. Around 59% of marketers said that salespeople make the best booth staffers.
People may assume that executives and senior management are the best choices for a booth. Yet, statistics prove that you shouldn’t take salespeople for granted, as they are actually the best booth staffers. Trade show industry statistics confirm that only 29% of marketers voted for senior management.
17. Only 6% of trade show competitors believe that they convert trade show leads well.
One of the most important trade show benefits is that it doesn’t matter why you exhibit your products at a trade show—it will probably end up in sales. Nowadays, most marketers gather leads, but only a small number agree that they convert them well. In this case, a thorough follow-up plan will help you during all trade show stages and put you ahead of the competition.
18. According to trade show industry trends, 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority.
More than 4 out of 5 people that enter a trade show are most likely to purchase a product or service from exhibitors. For this reason, it’s crucial to have an appealing booth and engage with potential customers.
19. Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is among the largest trade shows in the US, hosting a total size of 175,000 attendees.
Every year in Las Vegas, exhibitors present computer products, flashy gadgets, and drones. As one of the largest trade shows in the world, it invites many entrepreneurs to find new ideas through manufacturing solutions and innovative products, which makes this event extremely influential. a
After analyzing these trade show trends and stats, it’s understandable that trade shows are not as popular as in the past. In the past couple of decades, new marketing strategies have grown in popularity since digital marketing—questioning trade shows’ worth.
However, trade shows are still a valuable and relevant marketing tool as they create less expensive leads, brand awareness, and many other opportunities for marketers.
Trade shows are an investment, but how much do they cost? A trade show includes many costs, such as the exhibition’s expense and the fee to rent the booth space. Just a reminder that the larger the space for your show, the higher your costs will be.
On average, the area will cost between $100 and $150 per square foot. For example, a 10×10 booth area will cost approximately $14,000, with a total budget of $42,000.
With the adoption of more digital channels such as social media and SEO marketing, most marketers generally overlook trade shows. However, you should pay careful attention to the hidden power of trade shows.
This type of marketing can be highly effective when displaying innovative products or services at an event. Some benefits of participating in trade shows involve communicating face-to-face with the audience, lead generation, and brand awareness. What’s more, marketers can observe up close what the competition is offering.
Exhibiting at trade shows is definitely worth the time and effort—it’s a more effective way to demonstrate that your company is serious, stable, and large enough to participate in leading events and conferences.
But that’s not all. Trade shows have the power of showing credibility and visibility, generating business leads, learning which approaches and strategies work, helping you develop your brand, and closely analyzing the competition.
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that about 13,000 trade shows occur in the US annually, accounting for 40% of all trade shows globally. In fact, the number of international trade shows amounts to over 20,000 trade shows.
These events include many industries—construction, apparel, accessories, manufacturing, technology, home decor, sports products, entertainment, and transportation are some of the most popular trade show topics.
The trade show industry is not going to die out any time soon—rather the opposite. However, the massive impact of the coronavirus has struck the worldwide economy, including the trade show industry causing a considerable decline.
In the US, the trade show industry was worth $15.58 billion in 2019. Because of the global pandemic in 2020, the figure decreased to $5.56 billion. The trade show industry is still significant—trade show statistics suggest that these numbers are expected to rise to $14.5 billion in 2024.