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The First Ever Digital Canton Fair - Boom or Bust? 

· Chinese Marketing,B2B Marketing,Internationalization

Buyers and exhibitors around the globe will attend the first-ever digital Canton Fair from June 15th to 24th. This is the largest ever digital exhibition with 26,000 exhibitors and a global audience with around 200,000 in 2019.  

So what can buyers expect amid falling global demand and unfamiliarity with this new format? This article points out why this digital fair is going to surprise buyers and how to get the most from this digital format.

Let's take a look at a few characteristics of the Canton Fair trading environment as updated from an earlier blog post.

(1) Emerging from Covid-19. Demand has fallen but buyers are at the fair to make a profit. China is emerging from Covid-19 first so buyers are keen to see how new products are meeting the latest Covid-19 demands.

(2) Quality, not brand, matters. Buyers, like their customers, are seeking value, quality together with innovation. Exhibitors can't afford cancelled orders relative to previous years, so don't be surprised by requests for c

(3) New digital tools. Buyers have 10 days to discover products to meet their customers' needs. With Tencent on board, buyers have the option of putting up their sourcing requests so that various exhibitors may respond. This is faster and more transparent that roaming around a huge exhibition!

(4) See what's under the hood. Instead of looking at the size of an exhibition booth, buyers can see an exhibitor's factory through a video tour of their production facility. This year's exhibition is free for Chinese exhibitors so you will see a greater variety of potential suppliers (including a few crooks).

The time of buyers and exhibitors are valuable and there is no need to be overly polite. It is important to cut to the chase when interacting with Chinese exhibitors who may not be very fluent in your language. Here's a list of questions to ask so that you could get a sense of whether an exhibitor is a good fit for your needs:

(1) Articulate your requirements. What's the point of getting to know a great exhibitor who cannot meet your needs? Articulate, show (if possible) and ask the all-important question, "Do you think your company can manufacture this?"

(2) Be honest and seek honesty. There is no shame in seeking to fill a small order. Similarly, seek honesty from exhibitors in terms of their delivery schedule. Ask which port are they shipping out of to get a sense of whether their timeframe is realistic.

(3) Testimonials. Remember that very few exhibitors are doing a roaring business with the impact of Covid-19 biting deep similar to most parts of the world. They are likely to seek a larger deposit. Before committing, see names of similar customers that they have served and get in touch with them. It is extra-cautious but these are strange times we live in.

(4) Ask how you can be helpful. Every business is going through a harrowing time with Covid-19. Ask how you can be helpful. This is a touch that will be appreciated across cultures. Likewise, they are more likely to be receptive to put you in touch with the right folks as well.


Our team specialises in value-driven and authentic digital & content marketing for your brand. With expertise in the Canton Fair and end-to-end digital marketing (SEO, Content Generation and Video Production), we can help you with consultancy and research services.

Get in touch to discuss how your brand can become a leader at the Canton Fair.

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