Today I came across a report put together by Market Research Media that predicts massive growth in the popularity of virtual conferences and digital trade shows in the coming years. These types of online events are in their infancy right now, but MRM analysts expect “a compound annual growth rate of 56% [of the virtual conference marketplace] through 2015.”
I see the benefits of online trade shows, but the report got me wondering – what’s going to happen to trade show giveaways? I think it would be a big mistake for people to abandon trade show schwag altogether simply because the physical event has moved to cyberspace. In fact, I would expect the brand-building power of promo products to increase in the absence of a physical event.
If virtual conferences and trade shows really are the future, I anticipate direct mail promotions to grow in proportion. Companies can send out freebies via mail before or after the show to increase brand awareness and separate themselves from competing exhibitors. Only time will tell how this plays out, but I don’t expect trade show schwag to fall off the map completely – even if the physical trade show does.