The DQW Poll : Expos losing their shine

To find out whether channel partners still trust expos as a major revenue booster, The DQ Week recently conducted a poll whereby the clear majority stood in favour of attending expos.

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Regional expos has always been a ground for enthusiasm and hoopla for regional channel partners who are mostly either into retail or distribution. Besides, local associations, the organisers of the expo take much pride in hosting such events primarily once a year. The importance of the expos across India can be very well understood from the fact that in The DQ Week-CyberMedia Research survey on association rankings, a substantial amount of focus is given to hosting and the success of these very expos.


Over the years since its inception in the early channel days of the summer of 1990s, the format as well focus over expos have changed drastically. In the previous formats until late 2010, the focus was given primarily to channel trading and business with most of the major associations taking time slots dedicatedly for channel trade and inviting other fellow associations or nearby channel partners to the event. Marketing and brand promotion also featured as a top priority for some of the importers and distributors while the retailers focussed over end-user schemes. Now, with the retail market in India on a boom and the concept of ‘consumer is the king' taking a lead, channel partners prefer to tap the retail and end-user billing segment rather than focus too much over inter channel trading.

To find out whether channel partners still trust expos as a major revenue booster, The DQ Week recently conducted a poll whereby the clear majority stood in favour of attending expos. 58% of the respondents voted in favour of attending regional expos while 33% stated that expos have lost their shine and is not a viable business option now. As usual, 9% of the respondents was caught up with their business conscience and wasn't able to give a conclusion.

Although the majority of the respondents voted in favour, it needs to pointed out that while in previous years, channel sentiment was vehemently in favour of expos with an estimated 88% of channel partners across metros and upcountry locations in favour of attending expos, the number has now fallen drastically. It seems that the Indian channels are gradually losing their faith in this concept.


A few pointers needs to be understood in this trend. First of all, expos are indeed losing their shine in metro and Class A locations as end-user schemes (targeted at retail and end-user billing) go on nearly throughout the year. The same is with channel incentives (HP leads the incentive category) and related perks. This can be understood from the very fact that major channel partners in metro locations are not either keen in attending expos or are rejecting participation. Expos targeting business benefits are thus losing their ground.


Secondly, expos continue to dominate the upcountry sentiment on account of the sheer size of the market. However, national distributors and vendors have now successfully penetrated these markets even (often setting up stockists or own warehouses) reducing the scope of the sub-distributors and reaching out to the customers. Also, some associations, mainly in the north and east have lost their impact, strength and structure over the years and now are either dormant or is not in a position to host expos. This has severely impacted expos particularly in east (as was the case with Bihar, Odisha, Assam).

Thirdly, on the solutions front too, the expos have taken a set back with nearly 70% of total solution based companies remaining inactive throughout the expo terms. The reason, often put forward was the non-attendance of potential clients looking for solutions. Although associations have now stepped in to arrange for corporate billings and attendance, so far (from July 2011 to May 2012) response from corporate sector has been lukewarm. Indeed, expos are losing a major potential chunk of participants on account of this.

In the fourth place, commitment from the vendors over sponsorships is also a matter of concern. As an example, in the last expo of IT Association of Odisha (ITAO) last year, major vendors refused to sponsor their expo expecting bad response from a cold market situation. This move indeed left the association puzzled seeking vengeance from the vendors which got reflected during The DQ Week Tech Caravan, 2012. The case has been similar with other associations too, affecting mostly expos in south and east. A curtailment from the expected budget of the vendors (both direct and indirect) resulted in either downgrading the quality of the expo or a downfall in participants.

With the losing sheen of the expos in India, it is evident that channel partners are losing their faith in expos but the optimistic point still remains that majority are in favour of these events.