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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2015
Thesis number: 14118
How companies perceive the value of trade fairs: Reasons for companies' unwillingness to exhibit
Author: Kotila, Jaakko
Title: How companies perceive the value of trade fairs: Reasons for companies' unwillingness to exhibit
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; kauppa; commerce; messut; fairs; näyttelyt; exhibitions; yritykset; companies; asenteet; attitudes; asiakasarvo; customer value
Pages: 102
Key terms: trade fairs; customer value; customer desired value; customer perceived value
The purpose of this research is to study companies' perceptions of trade fair concept and value of exhibiting. Furthermore, the study explores the reasons why companies are unwilling to exhibit and they do not utilize trade fairs. The thesis first discusses how customer value is understood in the academic literature, and continues with presenting the results of analysis and finally discusses the findings.

The data for this study was gathered mainly from qualitative semi-structured interviews. The first three out of twelve interviews were preliminary in their nature having the role of indicating what issues need to be explored in more detail. The interviewed company representatives are mainly from top management level managers, couple of them being entrepreneurs and owners. Interviewed companies represent different fields of businesses. The companies and the managers were chosen partly from the client base of the Finnish Fair Corporation and partly from author's own contacts.

The data analysis followed the principles of grounded theory. The grounded theory method was suitable for getting insights into companies' attitudes towards trade fairs and exhibiting, and gathering more knowledge about the reasons for the unwillingness to participate in trade fairs. Based on the preliminary interviews, the sensitizing framework about customer value was identified to be crucial in this matter. Customer value framework was used as a support for building the theory on top of the researcher's collection and analysis of data.

The results indicate that trade fairs' competitive position as a marketing medium has decreased due to negative value perceptions. Findings indicate that there are many factors that affect how the value of trade fairs is perceived, and finally how the value perceptions affect the companies' buying behavior. Value perceptions of trade fair concept are affected by different actor groups, most significantly by four groups: the company itself, other exhibitors, trade fair visitors, and the service provider. In addition, another major aspect affecting the perceptions is the business environment that is constantly evolving because of digitalization and the changes in decision-making culture.

Indeed, companies are unwilling to exhibit because of negative value perceptions, and hence those factors affecting the perceptions need to be studied and understood. This research has provided a model of how companies in business to business markets are perceiving the value of service providers' offering, and how the perceptions affect the companies' buying behavior.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.