Trade fairs are a crucial event for Start-ups and Businesses. They provide an opportunity to showcase and sell products to the public. They can also be beneficial by promoting networking to grow potential client base and are also an opportunity to find new distributors, agents and potential business partners and investors. They provide a safe environment in which businesses can assess the opinion of clients, determine market potential, conduct research and evaluate competition (Rai, 2009).

In our case, we took it as a chance to get visibility for the first time outside our class environment and to practice our sales strategy. This was a chance for us to showcase our Minimum Viable Products, develop a modern brand image for our business and practice networking and pitching in a safe environment. We also took this opportunity to test our MVP on early adopters and use their feedback to develop and improve our business. We were willing to try out our product before it was 100% ready, after all this was our first iteration and was undoubtedly prone to change.

The Prototype we had on show in our first trade fair (at Kingston Business School Atrium) was 2 meters long, had a textured soft cotton fabric, two pockets and a polyester filling. The feedback we got was that it was a bit bulky and long, so it would be problematic if users wanted to use it outside of their home. We took that feedback to produce two shorter and less bulky versions of HugBuddy for our next trade fair. We wanted to let users experience our products with different fillings and dimensions to figure out if we could successfully conceive a version suitable for commuting and travelling. We also got feedback in relation to our branding and stand. Our stand and branding were not very reflective of our product so we had to improve it for the next trade fair.

The Eden Walk Trade Fair was much more ‘Real’ because we had to deal with real customers. We had our two new MVPs ready and were again collecting feedback for product development. By that time we had improved our branding strategy and used posters to showcase information about HugBuddy (filling, dimensions, suitable uses, fabric…) and our team contacts.

Eden Walk Trade Fair.

I was surprised that most of the interest and useful feedback came from elderly people. They had all previously experienced this kind of product and wanted a new one. They mentioned that they spend a lot of time in bed and so this kind of product would be of extreme interest to them. They even gave us suggestions on what we could use to fill HugBuddy (one lady even suggested we should fill it with water and grains).

This was a moment where we pivoted and started to focus more on this customer segment.

Team Planit with our HugBuddies.

We were proud to take part of this trade fair and our efforts were rewarded by getting second place in both best sales team and best trade stand.

References

Rai, S (2009) Importance of Trade Fairs. The Economic Times. Available at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/importance-of-trade-fairs/articleshow/4562412.cms?from=mdr (Accessed on 02/04/2020)