Author: Colin Snow
Toward the end of last year, we started to see the beginning of the end…of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least as far as restrictions are concerned. It has become easier to travel, mask mandates in many places around the world, such as the US and the UK, have become virtually non-existent, and many individuals have had the chance to get their second, even third vaccine shot.
One might think that this signals the long awaited return to normality; in this case as it relates to B2B marketing and the exhibitions that generate the relationships (and the leads) that make a lot of B2B marketing possible.
But reality is often disappointing.
Which is why many might not want to get their hopes up that in-person exhibitions are making a comeback in Japan, but I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to hope, because exhibitions are back and they’re showing no signs of leaving!
Last week I even had the pleasure of attending the bi-annually held Japan IT Week exhibition, which was held at Tokyo’s Tokyo Big Site event venue.
But just what is Japan IT Week? This event is a three day event, and Japan’s largest IT exhibition which consists of 12 specialized exhibitions, all in one place. By focusing on a range of IT fields, it has become the go to for exhibitors and visitors looking to expand their brand and their business. In order to get into the event, you have to pre-register, bring a business card and scan it at the venue, and then print out an ID badge with your company information on it. This is one of the ways that exhibitors can get leads from the visitors.
Now, you’re probably wondering how the event itself was. While the numbers of attendees weren’t exactly back to pre-COVID numbers, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I, for one, enjoy being able to walk around without being completely shoulder to shoulder with other attendees.
The following are some takeaways from the event.
So we know that in-person exhibitions are back, but what kinds of companies exhibited?
The number one spot on the list goes to exhibitors whose companies focus on IoT and 5G solutions. The next runner up was AI & business automation, followed by web & digital marketing, as well as cloud related companies. All in all, the total number of companies that exhibited was just under 650, almost twice the amount of exhibitors compared to the 2021 spring event. As far as the number of visitors, the number topped out at just under 40,000, also over twice the number of the previous year.
Aside from the obvious answer, which would be “the number of exhibitors and attendees,” there are a number of different things that are noticeably different. Compared to pre-corona, corona safety measures were certainly one of them. During the pandemic, particularly last year, some exhibitors were assisting their customers online, in order to reduce face-to-face contact in order to prevent infection. However, this year the exhibitors are taking proper prevention measures in order to resume face-to-face communication. As far as the event space is concerned, there were temperature checkers at all of the entrances to the exhibition space itself, as well as sanitizer, which everyone is asked to use prior to entering. Masks were also required. That being said, physical business cards were being exchanged by hand, and there were even a few handshakes from the exhibitors from overseas.
Speaking of overseas visitors, while there wasn’t a huge jump in foreign companies exhibition this year, there was a section devoted strictly to companies originating from Vietnam, and another for companies originating from Korea.
The lineup of exhibitors has changed when compared to pre-Covid. In the past, there were many solutions for the manufacturing industry, but now cloud services, especially cloud services and SaaS systems, seem to be gaining momentum.
We also noticed an increase in hand-outs and other items that you can take home with you, compared to how things were during the height of the Covid pandemic. Over here in Japan, we call them “novelties. In order to get one of these take-home items, you have to have your ID badge scanned, but get ready to get some emails from the various exhibitors later on.
Why are exhibitors and visitors returning to exhibitions now? We believe that people may be looking to trade shows to meet people they don't have the opportunity to meet online, and to build relationships they can't establish when not face-to-face. Especially in the B2B world, the need to meet face-to-face and establish these relationships is a big motivator when it comes to the return of in-person exhibitions in Japan.
These exhibitions don’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon and so this is a good time to look into potentially exhibiting at an event in Japan. Many of these exhibitions in Tokyo are held at Tokyo Big Site, or Makuhari Messe, both of which have English websites where you can view the upcoming event schedule. You will also see events at Yokohama’s Pacifico.
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Bigbeat Inc. has 27 years of experience in B2B marketing. If your company is interested in developing a social media strategy, or advertising on Social media in Japan, or if you need further information or assistance, do not hesitate to contact us here!
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