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The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has released “Purchase Process and Customer Relationships,” which is the third in a series of reports to be released over the next quarter from the landmark study, “The Role and Value of Face-to-Face Interaction.”

This document offers valuable insights regarding where attendees and exhibitors place high importance on engaging face-to-face at exhibitions at each stage of the customer continuum, including before a purchase is made, at the moment of purchase and customer interactions post-purchase. It identifies where attendee and exhibitor priorities are aligned and where there are gaps. It also identifies the face-to-face settings at exhibitions most preferred by both audiences.

“This report provides a road map for exhibitors to understand attendee priorities, how to position information shared in face-to-face conversations with what is useful for attendees at the purchase stages they find important to discuss at exhibitions. It also clearly identifies the popularity of one-on-one interactions, which signals the importance of exhibitor training,” said Nancy Drapeau, research director, CEIR. “Attendees want to meet the face or the people behind a company. This result suggests having the right staff with the right skill set and approach is essential to exhibiting success.”

The latest report reveals the “sweet spots” for exhibitions lie in the pre-purchase and post-purchase relationship-management phases. More than a majority of exhibitors and attendees assign high importance to interacting face-to-face at exhibitions at all pre-purchase stages. Many attendees also place high importance on interacting for the purpose of maintaining relationships with vendors after they buy, with 63 percent of attendees assigning high importance and 76 percent of exhibitors.

When it comes to settings for face-to-face interactions at exhibitions, the most preferred are one-on-one interactions. More than half of attendees, 56 percent, and about two-thirds of exhibitors, 67 percent, rank this setting number one. No other setting comes close for top ranking, with product demonstrations the second most mentioned by 20 percent of attendees and 19 percent of exhibitors.

“The Role and Value of Face-to-Face Interaction” study series examines the long-term value of face-to-face marketing and exhibitions, particularly in light of major economic fluctuations and the influx of technology and alternative marketing tactics, including digital media. More than 9,000 attendees and 800 exhibitors participated in this initiative. The study was made possible by a grant from the Exhibition Industry Foundation and is available online at www.ceir.org.

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