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Enterprises vote with feet on unprofitable trade exhibitions

Update: January, 20/2014 - 08:37
Customers shop at the Spring Fair 2014 in the central city of Da Nang. Many enterprises have stopped participating in trade fairs after failing to attract enough shoppers to their stalls. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Le Lam

HA NOI (VNS)— Many Vietnamese enterprises have stopped participating in trade fairs, as they have been unsuccessful in attracting customers and new business.

Le Doan Bao Tram, marketing manager of a food joint stock company in HCM City, said for several years attending trade fairs had not been among her company's practices in seeking to boost sales.

"There are too many trade fairs", she said. "My company has received tens of offers to participate in trade fairs nation-wide this month, but we refused most of them".

Tram noted that trade fairs used to be a legitimate channel for businesses to introduce their products to customers and promote their images. However, the model has become so over-used that few customers attend, regardless of the organisers' efforts in advertising and not charging admission fees.

Currently, the company is participating in a trade fair to promote Tet products in northern Phu Tho Province, she said, adding that the business resulting from fairs remains small.

Pham Ngoc Chau, deputy head of Hancofood Joint Stock Company, said the total cost of renting kiosks, promotional girls, MCs and advertising was about VND60 million (US$2820) or more, while the results were very modest.

According to Chau, many organisers did not make appropriate investments in trade fairs or support enterprises in marketing campaigns. Thus, the fairs developed into just exhibition halls where enterprises could bring goods to sell.

Last November, many enterprises sent petitions to the municipal Department of Industry and Trade to seek action against an unprofessional organisation that held a trade fair in Ha Noi to urge Vietnamese people to purchase Vietnamese goods.

In the petitions, the businesses accused the organisers of doing nothing to advertise and attract customers, while collecting VND10 million ($470) per kiosk. In the petitions, businesses sought to have the organisers refund their money for renting kiosks and pay all costs for decorating kiosks and other additional expenses.

The organisers admitted their mistakes, agreeing to return 20 per cent of the kiosk hiring cost to businesses participating in the fair.

Nguyen Minh Hoa, a consumer in Ha Noi's Hang Bac Street, said she was tired of trade fairs, where most of the kiosks were full of poor quality products from China or products that had been sitting in stock at participating businesses.

"I can't find a good product from a well-known trademark at those fairs. I don't want to waste time on it. I'd rather go to supermarkets or malls in town," she said.

Vuong Ngoc Tuan, deputy general secretary of the Viet Nam Standard and Consumer Association, said that unprofessional organisations, the loose management of goods sold at the fairs and the economic downturns that forced consumers to tighten their budgets, made trade fairs unattractive and unprofitable for businesses.

According to Tram, customers, especially those in big cities, have many choices in making purchases, such as traditional markets, supermarkets, manufacturers' sales agents or convenience stores.

"These channels have done a really good job, such as launching regular promotions and inviting customers to try free products," she said.

According to the enterprises, it is necessary to change the organisations of trade fairs. The number of trade fairs should be restricted, the management of goods sold at the fairs must be tightened and advertising should be strengthened to attract consumers.

They also cited the Vietnamese High-quality products trade fair and green consumption trade fair, which they said were among the better-organised fairs. — VNS


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