elcome to the new world of Green exhibiting and — for many of you — the future. Today the state of Green exhibiting looks like Deadwood in the early years: mostly confusion mixed with lots of conviction. Only a handful of clients and suppliers have answers; the rest are making it up as they go along. By next year, things will change. Exhibitors will be able to choose from a more sophisticated set of Green options at prices you might reasonably consider affordable.
How do we know? EXHIBITOR collaborated with The Bloom Group, an independent research firm, and a group of forward-thinking industry leaders, on a groundbreaking study entitled “An Inconvenient Booth: The Economic Impact of the Green Movement on the Trade Show Industry, Trend Report No. 1.” The study contains more than 60 pages detailing: 1) the current state of Green exhibiting, and 2) the future of Green exhibiting over the next 12 months. Nearly 800 pages of independently compiled, cross-tabulated data support the conclusions. The quicker-read 12-page Executive Summary is available here.
According to data published in “An Inconvenient Booth,” one trend is clear: For 61 percent of you, the world is about to turn some shade of Green. That’s the percentage of exhibitors who currently say their interest in Green solutions is high or very high. That interest is even higher among suppliers who — at 81 percent — not only think Green is “the right thing to do,” but sense a new economic opportunity on the horizon. And they are right. Seventy-five percent of exhibitors believe they will ultimately spend up to 24 percent of their trade show budgets on such Green exhibiting options as eco-friendly giveaways, recyclable exhibit properties, low-energy lighting, cradle-to-cradle design, and more. It is a new multi-billion-dollar market waiting to be mined.
With pent-up demand high, what is preventing exhibit programs from turning Green overnight? According to the report, the primary obstacle to the rapid adoption of Green exhibiting options is price. On average, Green options currently cost clients 26 percent more than traditional options, according to suppliers who responded to the survey. While customers admit to some flexibility regarding price, they lose interest when prices for Green options exceed traditional costs by 10 percent or more.
The price resistance is closely followed by the second obstacle — the limited selection of Green exhibit options. Bottom line, the current state of Green exhibiting can be fairly described like this: too few options priced too high.
In the future, historians are likely to pick 2008 as the year the so-called “Green Rush” gained traction in the trade show industry, and the year Green interest energized the wide adoption of eco-friendly systems and materials and rewarded new thinking in cradle-to-cradle design. The signs are there now: In just two years, between 2006 (when not a single exhibit-industry supplier publicly promoted any kind of Green exhibit options) and 2008 (when more than 10 percent of the companies slated to exhibit at EXHIBITOR2008 identified themselves as offering Green exhibit options) the paradigm shifted, and — shazam! — Green exhibiting arrived.
But it’s not just our industry that’s effected. According to John Stayton, business professor at Dominican University of California, Green business has quickly gone from an oxymoron to a mainstream concept.
With the advent of Green exhibiting at this moment in time, you have the opportunity to say you were there at the beginning, when confusion reigned and nobody had a clue. You were there before the 100-percent Green portable display was introduced (which I predict will be shortly), and before Green-exhibit certification existed. Talk about bragging rights!
Welcome to the future. e