Trade Show Intelligence

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Trade show intelligence


Many organizations that offer products and services in their individual markets are involved in the practice of gathering data and information about their rivals or competitors. This practice is common in trade shows and other similar exhibition events. Trade shows offer a rich source of actionable information and most organizations know this and thus; their participation therein is crucial in order to adapt to their environment and keep up with their market (Calof, 2004). The aim of this paper is to discuss trade shows by focusing on how the most actionable information can be gathered from trade shows to enable better decision making and adaptation to changing environments. Firstly, a brief description of trade shows and trade show intelligence is provided, followed by the benefits and problems of trade and lastly; recommendations on forming an appropriate information collection and analysis team are provided.

What is meant by trade show intelligence?

Bonoma describes trade shows as a marketing tool whereby organizations and vendors are invited to participate to showcase their products and services in an exhibition setting (Bonoma, 1983). They are events organized solely for the purpose of marketing and information sharing, where competitors and partners are in direct contact with each other. As mentioned in the last paragraph, organizations are actively collecting information on each other’s strategies and operations. This allows them to identify trends and predict changes in their environments in order to become flexible and remain in operation (Calof, 2004; Cherry & Gardner, 2002). Trade shows are important for this reason, they provide organizations with “…the best opportunity for coll...

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...ormation from trade shows (Calof, 2004).

Once the trade show is over and information has been collected, it will be time to return to the office and analyze the results. A follow up can be made on formed relationships; agents can use these relationships to collect more data in the future. Since these agents will actively be involved in CI even after the trade show; these formed relationships can be of advantage to them.


To conclude, trade show intelligence is a sub-concept of competitive intelligence that allows organizations to use actionable information to change their position in the market, maintain it or make strategic decisions. A dedicated CI team made up of CI agents that understand the full context of the information needs derived from Key intelligence topics is required to collect the data and bring it back to the organization for analysis.
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