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The future of trade shows: insights from a scenario analysis

Manfred Kirchgeorg (HHL–Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Leipzig, Germany)
Kathrin Jung (HHL–Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Leipzig, Germany)
Oliver Klante (Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg), Hamburg, Germany)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 13 April 2010




This paper aims to explore key factors that will shape the future of trade shows as a marketing instrument until the year 2020. Using multi‐stage scenario analysis, the paper seeks to provide a background for the discussion of strategic decisions made by trade show companies when they respond to the challenges ahead.


The underlying research draws on scenario analysis involving experts who represent exhibitors and trade show organisers. In total, 50 leading executives were involved. The majority of them are located in Germany, but they are exposed to the international trade show business. The probability that the identified scenarios will materialise was assessed using a representative survey of 400 German managers of exhibiting companies.


Within the study, three distinct scenarios were identified. Each scenario shows a different level of importance for trade shows as a marketing tool in the future. None of the scenarios predicts that trade shows will be completely replaced by other means, but all of the scenarios forecast a highly competitive market for trade show organisers.

Research limitations/implications

The paper evaluates the trade show itself as a marketing instrument rather than predicting the development of the global trade show industry. As projections are determined by the characteristics of trade shows themselves, the results can add to the discussion of strategic decisions globally, even though the scenario study predominantly involved German experts.

Practical implications

The research provides practitioners with a list of important factors that influence the performance of exhibitors and trade show organisers and hence insights into the future of trade shows as a marketing instrument.


The paper provides a useful multidimensional perspective on what the future may hold for trade shows.



Kirchgeorg, M., Jung, K. and Klante, O. (2010), "The future of trade shows: insights from a scenario analysis", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 301-312.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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