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TFI - Trade Fairs International - The International Trade Fair Magazine

TFI Know-how

What does interaction bring to the exhibition stand?

Photo: Carsten Nadler


Carsten Nadler

Sales Director
Impact Unlimited
Wil, Switzerland

Interactive techniques enable exhibitors to increase awareness of their brand and hold the attention of visitors at their stands for longer. They include multimedia technology, games, multiple-choice questionnaires and quizzes.  

Acceptance by decision-makers
The first question many people ask in connection with games at exhibition stands is: aren’t senior managers, decision-makers and CEOs put off by them? Actually, the opposite is true – provided there is a close, cause-and-effect relationship between the game and the messages to be put across. Studies by management consulting firm Gruppe Nymphenburg, for example, have shown that buyers and decision-makers who go to trade fairs – and, broadly speaking, the marketing community – respond particularly well to a playful approach. There are good reasons for this: recent neurological and neuromarketing research has shown that the idea that customers take a consciously rational approach to decision-making is a fiction.

Photo: Impact Unlimited
Iron deficiency and iron therapy could be explored using the clothes iron as a haptic element.

Example: pharmaceutical industry
Interaction can convey the effectiveness of a drug. Complex processes such as how a lower dose of a drug may be more effective can be illustrated effectively by means of a game-playing approach –more effectively, indeed, than is possible with printed information. Messages put across in this way remain in trade fair visitors’ memories. However, there is little point to an interactive approach if there is no clear message being communicated at the stand. Playing games for the sake of it is counter-productive: visitors do not remember anything of the brand and it triggers no response from them (in the form of enquiries). Vifor Pharma provided a successful example at the accompanying exhibition of the ERA-EDTA Congress in Stockholm, for which it came up with the Fabulous Iron Game. The principle is simple: the best way to get closer to customers is to get them involved. In the Fabulous Iron Game, congress delegates actually held an iron in their hand while exploring the issues of iron deficiency and iron therapy. The attraction could be seen from some distance and graphically illustrated what sets Vifor Pharma apart, namely that the company is a world leader in iron therapy. As a result, clearly more customers were attracted to the Vifor stand than the stands of the company’s competitors . Tests revealed significantly increased brand awareness and brand recognition for the Vifor products.  

Example: printing industry
Interaction can also take place on a more subconscious level – in the way visitors are guided through a trade fair, for example. This can be illustrated by an example from the Drupa print media fair in Düsseldorf. To exploit the great potential in terms of prospective buyers at the fair, it was decided to use an unusual layout for the Müller Martini stand, namely that of a (Swiss) cross. This meant that all visitors who came from Hall 13 or 15 to Hall 14 were automatically guided to the Müller Martini stand. The exhibition stand construction company had to meet the trade fair organisers in advance to persuade them to allow this and ensure it complied with the relevant regulations.  

Cost considerations
Is interaction at exhibition stands expensive? No, because scattering losses are low and it has a lasting mnemonic effect on customers – thus delivering better results than other forms of communication.

This article was published in TFI issue 6/2011