Attitudes of Americans at the Hanover Trade Fair


During the 2009 Hanover Trade Fair, KRISPIN Marketing Management conducted a marketing research study that looked at the attitudes of American companies who attended the Fair. The companies who were interviewed were selected at random from US companies attending the Fair. The primary findings from this qualitative market research are described below.

Before describing the common themes that were found by KRISPIN Marketing Management, some general background knowledge should be provided about the Hanover Trade Fair. The Hanover Trade Fair (Hannover Messe) remains the world’s leading showcase for industrial technology. Established sixty years ago, the Hanover Trade Fair is made up of 13 different leading fairs that present a cross section of key industrial expertise, it includes: Industrial Automation, Motion, Drive & Automation, Energy, Power Plant Technology, Wind, MobiliTec, Digital Factory, ComVac, Industrial Supply, and Coil, Surface and MicroNano Technology and Research & Technology Fairs.


During the 2009 Hanover Trade Fair there were several reoccurring themes, these included: Alternative Energy being a key focus for the future, efficiency regarding production and delivery of new products, the current economic client placing stress on activities and a negative attitude towards the amount of material in German.

Hanover findings regarding venue

Location, location, location: This was the number one theme from all of the interviewees during the market research. Those participating in industry specific themed pavilions were twice as likely to express optimism regarding ROI than those who had an individual booth. Many of the companies who had international partnerships / distributors would “piggyback” their products and booths with their international partners. This provided a better location and professional booth organization. However, some American companies who were approached for interviewees did not have any Americans or they had only came for the first few days of the Fair. Interviews with the international partners found that they had little or no knowledge about the company or the product they were there to represent.

Attitudes towards themed / joint pavilions

Interviewees in themed pavilions stated that, pavilions provided a centralized location along major footfall paths, reduced the overall cost for booths and increased their chances of being noticed. KRISPIN was interested in these findings as they organize joint booths, including an Industrial Supply Pavilion that helps medium and small size businesses get noticed during the Fair.

Preparation time and planning for the event seemed to differ greatly between companies who considered their attendance successful and those that weren’t. Successful companies stated that they began booking and planning their attendance for the Hanover Trade Fair at least 3-6 months prior to the show. There was a direct correlation found between interviewees who did not consider returning in 2010 and their amount of time and planning.

German was a main concern for most small and first time exhibitors during the Hanover Trade Fair. It was a preconceived notion that since this is an international fair that the material and information would be in English. All of the interviewees noted the overwhelming amount of material in German. Several interviewees felt unwilling to approach possible new clients or distributors because of this.  One outlying interviewee, Dr. Shrink, showed little or no reserve about approaching new clients, as he was self-confident that many, if not all, of the exhibitors spoke English.

How companies follow-up with new contacts

Interviewees stated that they viewed their attendance a success if they were able to leave with approximately 100 new contacts. However, when asked about process for following-up with these contacts, the majority answered that they would attempt to contact their new leads via one or two emails, in English.


Attendance: Combining attendance of the Hanover Trade Fair with a business trip to meet with current or new European contacts was the most effective answer given during interviews. This could include arriving prior to the Fair and traveling through Europe to meet with possible clients. Preplanning for the event is key to both being successful and making the most of your resources. Though KRISPIN is not a full-service event management agency, they do help clients to find suitable accommodations and transportation during the Fair.

Follow-up solutions: Many of the interviewees did not have adequate resources or knowledge of European cultures to effectively follow-up with new contacts. In Germany, the UK, France and the rest of Europe all business interactions are different. Without a working knowledge of how these countries react to these types of interaction a company can either be successful or fail in their initial introduction stages with possible new clients and / or distributers.  As an international marketing firm, KRISPIN offers a special service to American and non-European companies to bridge these problems and help company’s secure secondary meetings with potential clients and distributers.

Partnering during the Fair: Interviewees without large event budgets were interested in the participation of a themed pavilion. Pavilions provide more visibility, a more professional representation and more amenities. These factors allow for a move noticeable location. However, interviewees were unwilling to be located with other companies that are direct competitors. Several interviewees noted their pavilion partners provided new options for distribution and possible clients.

Note: The marketing research was provided by KRISPIN Marketing Management, a Marketing Management agency, based in Hanover, Germany. The purpose of providing this information was to generate awareness for American companies who are contemplating attending the Hanover Trade Fair in 2011.

As Newman Partnership Ltd. is an international agency, we are always happy to help develop and promote research and other areas of interest for the pursuit of knowledge.


6 responses »

  1. I must say, I find it extremely irritating and quite arrogant to expect mostly English material at a German trade fair – may it have an international orientation or not. Well, may be just an all too typical US view of the world. Disappointing, really.

    • We all take what we will from marketing research, but I think that the issue is two-fold.
      First, Americans are sometimes overly presumptuous about how business and the world should be acting, but this comes from the reinforcement of University learning about how Globalization is shaping the world. Americans are force fed that English is the language of business, and you only have a handful of people who truly see the world of language ecology.
      But that is just what I think about it. It could also be the fact that Americans get like 2 weeks of paid holiday a year.. What is up with that?

  2. Well, don’t get me wrong. English surely is the language of business – but claiming that info material, brochures, what have you, in German are the reason for not being able to make contact ( Several interviewees felt unwilling to approach possible new clients or distributors because of this. ) sounds terribly daft to me.
    A very restricted view of the world as it is today may be reason, I’m all with you on that. Globalisation may have not come to the US yet – well, not as other people treat it.

    Interesting piece of info all the same, thanks for sharing.

  3. Always happy to share.
    Funniest bit of the research was that while I was interviewing one American, a French lady came up and began asking questions of the interviewee. She had a distinct Parisian accent, but the American said, “Sorry, I don’t really understand German, could you speak a little more slowly.” The French lady became very upset, and began stating that she was most definitely not German, and that she could not believe that the American couldn’t tell the difference. She left in a huff cursing about how stupid Americans are.

  4. This a fabulous post and may be one that you should followed up to see what the results are

    A companion emailed this link the other day and I will be eagerly anticipating your next article. Continue on the superb work.

    • The problem with conducting a follow-up in 2010 was that a volcano erupted and most of the American’s (and everyone else for that matter) who were expecting to attend were unable to do so. But maybe a 2011 study will show some interesting findings.


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