Best in Show: How to prepare for trade shows and market visits?

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It can be hard to know what knowledge or resources will be required to make the most of trade shows and market visits, but we have broken this down into 5 crucial steps your business will need to take to ensure you are prepared.

As we are approaching the trade show season in the food & beverage industry (although COVID-19 is having an impact on the calendar), it is crucial that suppliers are well prepared and knowledgeable about the current market for their product in the country they are visiting. There are a myriad of opportunities coming up for suppliers to take part in trade shows; with Gulfood, Natural Products Expo West, FHA Singapore, SIAL China, Thaifex and Fancy Food New York, just around the corner. Companies make huge investments in order to attend these forums and pay for exhibition spaces, attend market visit programmes or simply to travel and scope foreign markets. It is important that this investment doesn’t go to waste and is used to its full potential. Thorough preparation prior to departure, means suppliers gain a more educated, nuanced understanding of the market, essentially getting more bang for their buck!

  1. Desktop research – A seemingly obvious but often neglected first step, it is extremely important to collect data, from a range of sources, regarding the country and market you are entering. From basic demographics, consumer behaviours and your product’s specific category and channel trends, to market economics and market entry requirements and tariffs, there is an immense amount of information available online which will help you to build a base understanding of how your product could possibly be relevant to a particular market. Consider the purchase of market research reports and statistics to provide further insight on industries, economies and consumers and be sure to utilise government websites and data sources. 
  2. Online competitor analysis – An extension of your initial desktop research,  determining the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within a market provides you with a distinct advantage and opportunity to understand your product’s position and strategize how best to market yourself. This analysis can be done through gathering data via online supermarket websites and portals or food service websites. Some of the things you might like to compare are; the prices of products, claims that the product makes, pack sizes, promotions and marketing activities.
  3. Pitch development – A solid pitch is an essential tool for achieving your goals and gaining attention from buyers. Make sure to provide a quick overview of your product, backed with the key trends and opportunities you have found in the market and an analysis of channel margins (discovered through your desk research). It is crucial to outline your unique selling proposition (USP), that stands apart  from other products already in the market (developed through competitor analysis). 
  4. Target buyer list – The next step is to begin to identify and approach potential, qualified buyers that may express interest in your product from channels such as supermarkets, food service, e-commerce or distributors etc. Be sure to share with these buyers your pitch documents, catalogues, samples and other promotional materials. During the time of the tradeshows, it might be worthwhile to book appointments at this time of the year, as well as potentially inviting these buyers to visit your trade show kiosks.
  5. Preparation of supermarket itinerary – Finally, it is essential to identify potential supermarkets and hypermarkets, as well as restaurants or cafes that could potentially stock your product. Ideally, you should visit these markets prior to the trade shows to see where your product category sits, the supermarket customer base and how products similar to your own are promoted.

At Export Connect we understand that, particularly for smaller businesses, time equals money, and all of this preparation can take quite a bit of time. Organisations like Euromonitor provide market insights and Austrade can help with buyer identification. Many export consultants can also provide some of the points listed above. Export Connect has the experience, networks and capability to tailor the market reports, competitor analysis, pitch development, pre-qualified buyer leads and supermarket tour itinerary in the one service for your products.