A new analysis of exhibitor practices and attendee preferences by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) revealed that while there is a discernible shift toward digital methods of information distribution, some sectors still favor print options.
The study found that the most common methods exhibitors used to provide supporting product information at shows were distributing handouts at the show or sending e-mails or printed materials following the exhibition. These methods align with the preferred practices of attendees. However, a significant minority does prefer other digital options such as USB drives, compact disks and even CD-ROMs.
CEIR surveyed 502 industry professionals from the International Center for Exhibitor and Event Marketing database and Exhibitrac’s Top 250 trade exhibition list to compile its new report, Exhibitor Product Information Sharing Practices.
“These results clearly indicate the importance of using print options strategically, along with considering which digital tactics make sense to satisfy the preferences of their target audiences,” contends Nancy Drapeau, research director at CEIR, in a statement.
Information dissemination timing and methods are somewhat dependent on industry sector, according to the report. During tradeshows, handouts of printed brochures and catalogues are most favored at medical and health care events, distributed 88 percent of the time, whereas communications and information technology events have the highest preference of attendees wanting USB drives and QR codes for digital access to product information, at 25 and 38 percent of the time, respectively.
Even still, industrial and heavy machinery and finished business output sectors represent the highest likelihood, 72 percent, of wanting printed brochures and catalogues sent to them after an event ends.
“Print collateral on premises and post-event is still pervasive,” says Drapeau. “A good portion of attendees still want print collateral when they walk the floor.”
Overall, the report found that the most important objectives for exhibiting are building brand awareness, identifying and reaching out to new leads and in-person networking with existing customers.
While post-event e-mails and USB drives on the floor are cheap and effective, the complete removal of all printed materials on site could cause issues if attendees expect handouts. For exhibitors, the report suggests pared-down print materials onsite in conjunction with a digital follow-up, thus cutting cost while maintaining value.