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The biggest or best fairs may not be the right one for your products.  Lots of preparation and groundwork prior to attending a fair help make a success of the trip, our writer says.

New Zealand exporters could attend an international trade show every day of the year and still not exhaust the overwhelming list of annual events. Choosing where to spend a company’s precious trade show budget can be daunting.  The obvious way of narrowing down choice is to ask whether the show is in your target market and supports your product but the finer decision points involve careful research and preparation.

Exporters attend shows for varying reasons, says Hans Frauenlob, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NTZE) operations director, ICT/creative/services, who has had many years of involvement with trade shows.  With large shows such as CeBIT, the big-name German technology show in March, exporters don’t always exhibit first up.  Some have come to him and said, “I think I need to learn about the European market”, and firstly attend as a visitor while others decide it is for them and invest in exhibiting straight off.

Frauenlob believes it is not always which show exporters choose to go to but the preparation they do beforehand that makes the biggest difference to success. Rocking up hoping to be inundated by passer-by customers is usually a mistake. Making appointments at or around the show before you leave home is the most successful strategy.


It is not as simple as creating a list of must-attend shows for Kiwi exporters.  As Frauenlob points out, even the most well known shows may not be right for certain products. Often it is difficult to stand out among the throng of other exhibitors in a big show and it could be better to attend one that is smaller and less well known but more finely tuned to your specific product, with less competition.

However, there are several well known shows that attract big buyers from around the world. Frauenlob points to several across industry sectors.

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, from October 28 to November 1 this year, is the big marine industry show for New Zealanders. Its focus is power and sail boats as well as equipment and accessories exhibitors. The show attracts about 1000 exhibitors and 118,000 visitors. The 2010 show calendars list several major boat shows each month in various locales. NZTE was involved in both Fort Lauderdale and the Monaco Yacht Show in 2009 and the Abu Dhabi Boat Show in March 2010.

CeBIT is the big name in the technology sector, held in Hannover, Germany in March each year. The 2010 show was held from March 2 to 6. It covers the latest IT and telecommunications products, services and solutions under the themes of business IT, ICT infrastructure and future ICT. With a mix of exhibits, conferences, keynote addresses, corporate events and business lounges, it is an annual meeting point for ICT buyers, sellers, developers and users from around the world.


The food and beverage sector is particularly overstocked with international shows.  Some popular ones for Kiwi exporters include Food and Hotel China in Shanghai in November. There are several Food and Hotel shows including Vietnam, Malaysia and Arabia. Other popular F&B shows include Foodex Japan in Tokyo in March, which attracts buyers from Korea and China. The US National Restaurant Association show held in May in Chicago is well known to New Zealand exporters, as are Fancy Food in San Francisco in January, and New York in June. For the healthy products sector there is Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim in March. In Europe the big billing F&B show is SIAL in Paris in October.

Frauenlob also mentions BIO 2010 in Chicago as one of the majors held in May.  NZBIO manages the New Zealand contingent with support from NZTE. It is aimed at exhibitors that “heal, feed and fuel the world” from biofuel to pharmaceuticals.

Trade shows tend to follow current business trends, according to Frauenlob, which is evident in the increase in environmentally orientated shows. The biennial GLOBE trade fair and conference on business and the environment in Vancouver in March and the Cleantech Investment Forum in California in January are two environmental shows that attract NZTE involvement.


Other shows rated as among the most popular by Frauenlob, also with NZTE involvement, include Medica in Düsseldorf, Germany.  Celebrating its 40th anniversary last year, the medical trade show attracted 138,000 trade visitors.  Health Ingredients is another big player for Kiwi exporters.  There are several different shows – Health Ingredients Japan is in Tokyo in October and Health Ingredients Europe was held in Paris in November 2009, and Madrid hosts this year’s.

Frauenlob says New Zealanders are often so intent on getting overseas to their market they can sometimes overlook the more simple but effective idea of bringing key potential and existing customers to their place.  Organising a mini-event here can be a successful tool.  He says people around the world are “dying to come to New Zealand” and this country leaves a lasting impression.


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