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A relationship marketing perspective to trade fairs: insights from participants

Maria Sarmento (iMarke – Research in Marketing and Strategy, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.)
Minoo Farhangmehr (School of Economics and Management, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.)
Cláudia Simões (Open University Business School, Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 1 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual foundation for understanding business-to-business (B2B) interactions at trade fairs.


The paper reports a qualitative study that was undertaken to gain in-depth insights into the relevance of the trade fair context for business relationships. Key informants were trade fair organizers, trade fair exhibitors, trade fair visitors and experts in the field.


Based on a qualitative approach, we propose a conceptual model that allows understanding the importance of relational interactions at B2B trade fairs. The model shows that interactions and networking served through information exchange, and social interaction among participants at B2B trade fairs are vital for relationship building and development. The model also highlights the fact that trade fairs are relevant to develop a relationship marketing strategy that involves interactions and networking with a multitude of players that goes beyond the interactions between exhibitors and visitors. The model also depicts the importance of trade fairs for product innovation and for generating innovative solutions to problems. Overall, findings suggest that a customized approach will become dominant in trade fairs.


This paper’s contribution is twofold: first, to the relationship marketing literature for developing an understanding of the influence of a specific context in promoting particular interaction dynamics capable of affecting relationship development; second, to the literature on trade fairs by focusing on such context from a relationship marketing perspective.



This research was sponsored by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal.


Sarmento, M., Farhangmehr, M. and Simões, C. (2015), "A relationship marketing perspective to trade fairs: insights from participants", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 584-593.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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