International fashion trade shows as brand identity enhancement platforms for Finnish microenterprises

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Purpose: This thesis aims to examine how the brand identity of Finnish microenterprises can be enhanced in the context of international business-to-business (B2B) fashion trade shows. More specifically, how digitalization is affecting the industry in bringing in alternatives that take away from trade show attendance, and how the concept of trade shows should be improved to stay competitive. According to predominant literature, trade shows are known to be a popular medium for promoting and selling products and services. However, attendance has recently been declining and since many times companies do not even specify clear objectives while participating, it lowers the barrier to eliminate trade shows from the marketing palette. Technology and the vast communications power of the Internet are changing the business environment and offering new ways of promoting the brand so it is crucial for trade shows to stay on top of this change to stay competitive. Methodology: Qualitative methods were used to carry out this research. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to gain understanding of Finnish microenterprises' trade show experiences, form an understanding of activities carried out at trade shows and find out how technology is shaping the industry from their perspective. The analysis was conducted using grounded theory to additionally catch themes outside the theory. Findings: Based on the research data, the activities performed at trade shows support the notion of brand identity enhancement from all its dimensions. However, technology is inevitably affecting the industry by bringing in new, even better ways of doing business. This is taking away from trade show attendance and calls for renewing the trade show concept to better match the changing environment and evolving needs. Consistency, creativity and openness to digitalization are advisable for small fashion companies to stay in the forefront of competition in this hectic industry. The trade show concept in itself needs a 'facelift' by introducing more structure in organizing efforts, open communication to help exhibitors in planning efforts, better targeted and focused events and more bold implementation of new communication channels to better serve the needs of the small companies putting big monetary efforts into attending. Keywords: Trade show, Brand identity, Fashion, Microenterprise, Digitalization
trade show, brand identity, fashion, microenterprise, digitalization
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