Effective participation in int’l trade fair: a way of market diversification

Abu Mukhles Alamgir Hossain

Participation in International Trade fair is a suitable marketing tool for exploring new overseas market and to retain the existing market share in the international arena. It provides a unique platform to the exhibitors to acquire in-depth knowledge about present market trend, design of the product,competitor’smarketing strategy, price and other information relevant for their productdevelopment. There are two types of International fair. These are Sourcing Fair and Consumer Fair. Retail sales are taken place in consumer fair and this category of fair is not ideal for market diversification. The Sourcing Fair is the place where buyers (Brand, Wholesaler and Retailer) explore their sourcing point for their products. This types of fair play a pivotal role in Marketexpansion of any country. Exporters focus their concentration on sourcing fair with a view to exploring new contact point (potential buyer) for their products.   Bangladesh achieved tremendous export growth during last Financial Year (2018-19) with double digit growth. Export earnings of 2018-19 were US$ 46.86 billion which was US$ 41.07 billion during 2017-18. Bangladesh marching towards Middle Income Country (MIC) and it is very crucial to retain the export growth higher. It has been frequently discussed that our export trade is vulnerable due to limited export destination and limited product. Apparel occupies 84.21% four total export earnings and 73.34% market is confined to EU and USA. So it is imperative to get rid of such situation. 

To keep the momentum of the export growth, it is necessary to look for new export destination beyond the existing market.  Government of Bangladesh projected to increase export’s contribution to 26% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Perspective Plan of Bangladesh-2010-2021. In order to implement the government’s objective Market Diversification is one of the effective ways. 

Market Diversification is one of the key activities of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).  EPB participates around 30-32 International Trade Fairs across the globe with a view to expanding export destination of Bangladesh. In addition, EPB organizes single country trade fair, trade conference and Business Match Making with the close association of Bangladesh Embassies abroad. EPB has undertaken initiatives to expand export destination to Middle East, Africa and Latin America and accordingly it included some potentials fairs in its annual fair calendar. Financial assistance in the form of subsidy on the participation fee is also provided to the co-exhibitors of EPB.   To make the Fair participation a grand success, EPB is emphasizing in attractive booth decoration projecting country and sector. It is as well giving priority to make visitor friendly pavilion so that co-exhibitors can interact with the potential buyers to catch contact points. This is how EPB has been playing a vital role in Market Diversification of Bangladesh since its inception. 

But one way initiative is not enough to make the initiative of EPB successful.The Same Sector Association and the exporters should come forward to work under same umbrella to make Bangladesh’s participation in the international fair successful. Most of the exhibitors do not want to involve themselves with pre-fair marketing to apprise the potential buyers about their presence in the Bangladesh Pavilion.  Well-designed website for target customers and Social Networking Services (SNS) like Facebook, LinkedIn, Line, Whatsapp ,WeChat and Instagram  can be used for marketing their product  to the potential buyers before participating any fair. In addition, registration in time on the Website of the fair organizer and inclusion of exhibitor name with product profile in the fair directory can also add value to the exhibitors. The activities of the exhibitors during the fair are very important to attract the potential buyers to their booths. Internal Decoration with catchy slogan, showcasing quality goods and exhibitors’ vibrant presence with good communication skill can help profusely in attracting visitors in the booth.  Post fair follow up with the contact point is also a significant component for effective participation in the fair. 

It is advisable to participate at least three consecutive times in a particular fair to win the trust of the potential buyers. Most of the exhibitors in Bangladesh do not follow these activities properly and this is why they can’t get the fruitful result out of their participation. Exhibitors of the fair must understand that the fair is only a platform to get the contact point and it does not guarantee the on spot export order. Participation in the international trade fair abroad ensures contact points of the potential buyers.

The Permanent Fair complex is an essential element for undertaking market diversificationactivities. Bangladesh is going to have itsoon as Bangladesh China Friendship Exhibition Center’s construction work will be over by 2020. EPB as like Korea International Trade Association (KITA) can run this permanent fair complex in order to perform its market development activities efficiently. KITA is operating World Trade Center Seoul (WTCS) with 605,221-square-meter facility and playing an outstanding role in developing new foreign markets and enhancing private sector trade. In addition, it is being organized world-class exhibitions for creating market of their exportables.  In this case restructure of EPB would be needed and it can be done by following the footsteps of KITA. 

To maintain the sustainable export growth, effective fair participation in the international trade fair abroad to be ensured  with the concerted effort of EPB , same sector association and exporters.       

The author is Deputy Director, Export Promotion Bureau, amahepb75@gmail.com)