The 20th edition of the annual Rwanda International Trade Fair enters its fourth day today, but with familiar sore spots of bother: exhibitors are only optimistic that the weekend will pull showgoers over to Gikondo Expo Grounds, but they are complaining about ‘high prices’ of products at the exhibition.
Further blights to the annual exhibition has always seen exhibitors complain of high fees charged by the organisers, Private Sector Federation, to get a stand.
But trade fairs are supposed to be more of product marketing tools than sales platforms. In other words, whereas exhibitors are expected to sell lots of products throughout the expo, their prices are expected to be more affordable to showgoers compared to the standard market price of the same products.
It would be interesting to find out the market prices versus that at the exhibition but that is not the matter at hand. How can the organisers and other stakeholders make the trade fair benefit the two most important stakeholders: exhibitors/producers and consumers/showgoers?
Trade fairs serve to develop and cultivate customer relations, search for partners, and to position the exhibitor/ company as a whole. There are many exhibitors who are here to test markets for new products by making the most of the market research element of trade fair, and there are those who are out to increase public awareness about their company, to analyse the market situation and to prepare the ground for selling products and services.
But to do all these and more, exhibitors want to see many showgoers. Showgoers translate into consumers. Lowering pricing just for the fair is such a welcome idea and it attracts more showgoers. Yet the dilemma for the exhibitors is that they must limit incurring too much losses during the fair. One has to factor in the stalls and other utilities before deciding on a price for their products.
But these can only happen with stakeholders involved in organising expos doing more to attract consumers beyond just telling them that there is trade fair ongoing. Price is the biggest factor in all these.
There is no doubt that the Private Sector Federation has done a lot over the years to turn the Rwanda trade fair into an economic event with appeal that extends beyond the borders and over the seas, but markets evolve. So are ideas of doing things.
The organisers need to ask why showgoers should complain about pricing of products on exhibition and work to ensure that consumers come to the trade fair and leave with products that they can test for satisfaction.