Trade fairs are an important part of marketing as well as business networking. These events give businesses the opportunity to display their brands and products or services in an environment where trading occurs. Not only is this a great platform to market your brand and display your product or service, but it is also a perfect space for gaining invaluable feedback which can help to improve your brand.
For the Design Thinking for Start Ups module we were required to attend two trade fairs to exhibit the Hugbuddy. The trade fairs gave us an opportunity to refine our branding, master our sales strategy and engage with potential customers around Kingston.
The first trade fair was hosted in the Kingston Business School atrium. The attendees of this trade fair were predominantly students and staff from Kingston University. This was a good first experience for Team Planit to experience displaying and selling the HugBuddy. The first HugBuddy prototype was ready for this trade fair. Visitors to the stand were able to feel the HugBuddy and wear it. The general feedback received from this interaction was very positive. People liked the look and feel of the HugBuddy as well as the idea behind it. Perhaps the most important feedback received from the trade fair was in relation to the stand and the branding of the HugBuddy. The advice received was to improve the display of the HugBuddy and to refine the brand identity and communication of HugBuddy. All of this advice would prove incredibly useful for the second trade fair to be attended a few weeks later.
The second trade fair where the HugBuddy was exhibited was in a retail space in Kingston. We were happy to have three prototypes ready for this event. This gave us the opportunity to engage with shoppers with no link to Kingston University. This was a more challenging environment to display the HugBuddy. But also a good platform for gaining valuable feedback about the HugBuddy. Again, there was positive feedback from the public. An elderly lady gave some very insightful feedback stating that she felt the HugBuddy could also be used for elderly people who spent a substantial amount of time in bed. This was a segment of the market that had not previously been considered.
I had also been very fortunate to attend trade fairs in Milan, Moscow, Tokyo and various cities in South Africa with Babatunde before coming to Kingston. These were excellent lessons of international expectations of quality and the various quantities people trade. The language barrier in the foreign cities also helped me to understand the different way different nationalities communicate and their respective ideas of professionalism.