If you run a business heavily reliant on manufacturing either your own products, or sourcing from abroad you should be interested in the trade fairs that run across China. At these events, thousands of suppliers set up stalls advertising their wares and hoping to network with potential customers. You can get an exclusive inside look into upcoming products and could seize the opportunity of being a first mover with a new product.
There are many different trade fairs in China, with the largest being the Canton Fair which attracts over 200,000 buyers each year with over 50,000 different booths being set up. If you are on a strict time schedule, it is unlikely you will get to see everything, especially if you only get a day pass. If you are interested in reading a bit about the background and finding out about other popular trade fairs, consider reading our entry into our Trade Wiki found here.
However, these fairs do not come cheap. Once you factor in air fares, hotels, food and all other associated costs, traveling out to visit one of the fairs becomes quite expensive. Determining whether or not this trip is worth the money all depends on the context. There is no doubt about whether you will benefit from the experience, but in monetary terms, you may not see a reasonable return on your investment.
Setting up a stall costs the vendors a considerable amount of money. They themselves approach trade fairs in a similar way to attendees, to make profits. After investing considerable sums to set up a booth, the often want to reclaim this cost. Therefore, if you want to visit a trade fair and your aim is to reduce your current costs and are already manufacturing in China you may not benefit. Quoted prices are generally slightly inflated by vendors looking to recoup their initial outlay.
However, if you are more interested in discovering a new and upcoming product to bring to market, you will benefit greatly. Many vendors use these fairs to showcase their products, hoping to attract bulk orders for new and innovative products. Furthermore, trade fairs can be ideal to launch exclusive new products granting an ideal opportunity to be taken advantage of.
To really get the most out of any trade fair it is highly recommended to do plenty of planning. Certain trade fairs are more suited to a select audience more so than others. For example, the popular Yiwu Commodities Fair seeks to attract small buyers, whereas others may only cater to select industries or other sectors. Most trade fairs will have a map with vendor’s locations on to utilize, which would be ideal to obtain and use. You should also plan other factors like issues with visas (check out our entry in the Trade Wiki here).
Ultimately the question whether flying to China to visit a trade fair is worthwhile can be complicated. If you properly make the most of the opportunity, then the experience should pay dividends. Ideally, if you meticulously plan and research the trip beforehand you should be able to have an effective time. However, it is advised to be completely clear on your objectives and whether your selected trade fair can meet them. It would be a waste of time to travel and find out suppliers are only willing to deal in numbers in the range of hundreds and thousands if you have a smaller budget.