Millennials and Their Impact on the Trade Show Industry

Millennials are a powerhouse in today’s U.S. economy. In fact, they make 73% of the purchasing decisions in B2B companies and their influence has a ripple effect across nearly every industry. Taking time to really understand what makes the millennial tick is a necessary ingredient in your marketing recipe and crucial to the success of most modern businesses.

The trade show industry is one of many industries that millennials are disrupting in a major way. Marketing that appealed to previous generations doesn’t cut it for millennials. They have entirely different motivators than their Gen X’er and baby boomer predecessors. What, you might ask, are those motivators and what is it that millennials are looking for in their trade show experience?


Priority one, Millennials want relationships. They seek connection with their peers, with their colleagues ...and with the brands they patronize. Even before making a purchase, this generation is researching your brand – maybe even digitally engaging with it – in order to get to know you better. Trade shows are great opportunities for face-to-face, relationship-building interaction. In this vein, keep the information you present conversational in nature and strive for transparent communication. Open and honest communication is a Millennial relationship expectation.


Your Millennial audience spends copious amounts of time gathering information online, reading reviews and learning more about how your product will improve their lives. They’re talking to their friends and watching YouTube videos of product comparisons and demonstrations. They are information hungry! However, keep in mind that if you come off salesy, you’ll lose their interest. One great way to bridge this gap is by incorporating digital information into your booth that they can access at will. Consider a tablet-based product catalog with testimonials, 3-D product views and video footage of your product “in the field.” Also, be sure you know your stuff. Millennials will engage you in discussion about the ins and outs of your product. This is a great way to build relationships and shine as an expert in your field.


Although sources debate which years bookend the Millennial generation, it is widely accepted to refer to Millennials as anyone born in the 80’s and 90’s, making them the first generation to grow up with digital technology.

So how do you cater to this tech-savvy generation at your next trade show? Consider offering a USB charging station. They’ll love the courtesy and convenience and while their device is charging, you can engage them in conversation as they peruse your booth. A win-win!

You can also show Millennials that you “get them” by offering tech giveaways such as phone stands, laptop covers or flash drives. It’s a great way to get them to engage and leave a tidbit of personal information behind – perfect for that post-trade show follow-up call or email!

Social consciousness

Whereas previous generations were drawn to brands that bore long-standing reputations and relationships with other companies, this generation wants to identify with brands that align with their values. They want to be co-creators of your brand image and they want to make the world a better place with each purchase. That’s why honing in on your social stance is imperative. Are your booth materials eco-friendly? Are you a B1G1 champion? When you reflect values in your trade show marketing that align with those of the Millennial population, you will develop a loyal Millennial customer base.

An experience

Did you know that 78% of Millennials prefer to spend money on experiences as opposed to physical items? Enact experiential marketing with kiosks displaying interactive content, games, competitions and digital displays. Consider photo booths and stand-in cutout kiosks for great selfie opportunities. Up attendees’ experiences by making your content easily shareable. Designate a hashtag for your next trade show and encourage attendees to upload pictures and videos to Instagram or Facebook with said hashtag. (Psst! This couples great with the stand-in cutout kiosk!)

Visual content

Whereas their predecessors sought out information in longhand, written format (Consumer Reports anyone?) Millennials love their visual content. Incorporate kiosks or screens with video content into your display to draw them in and pique their interest. Social proof carries a lot of weight with Millennials so weaving in screenshots of social media reviews or video testimonials will certainly increase your credibility.

At Showcraft, we work with countless companies that market to Millennials and know how to design a booth that attracts their attention and encourages them to engage. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you do the same, give us a call!

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