Best Tradeshow Booth Designs - Natural Products Expo West 2023
Expo West had such a massive turnout this year, that it was easy to spot booths that successfully drew a crowd. Sometimes, that crowd made it impossible to even get down the aisle (we confess we got stuck a few times). Drive Wheel’s team took note when we’d get caught in the gravitational pull of a booth and asked ourselves, with so many companies vying for attention, what was making these booths so successful?
The target audience for any successful tradeshow booth is retail buyers (and possibly Private Equity Investors). The booth has to grab their attention long enough for the sales team to deliver an on-point sales message. Manufacturers utilize samples, colors, fun, and excitement to grab an extra second of attention to make their sale. We’ve highlighted a few for you.
#1 Be Exciting – Preferably from Head to Toe
Coordinated, stylish company uniforms were the standouts this year. Gone were the boring company polos and khakis. Expo West put its fashion foot forward with coordinated bold color palettes, matching hot pink suits, denim boiler suits, and some of our favorites from Goodle, pink Boiler suits with their bold graphic logo emblazoned across the back. This new school of booth uniforms made it easy to spot both booth personnel and brand personality.
#2 Color Wins Attention
The Pantone color of the year, Viva Magenta, featured strongly throughout and embodies the overarching theme we saw behind this Spring’s Expo West. The meaning behind that color according to Pantone: “Viva Magenta is brave and fearless, and a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes a joyous and optimistic celebration, writing a new narrative.” Joyful and optimistic celebration was the tone of the season, with companies and attendees alike celebrating a return to full speed after Covid and celebrating their unique brand personalities.
Not just the color of the year, but bold colors all together drew attendee’s attention. Move over soft pastel colors of the late 2010’s, this year is the year of more is more. Brands that embraced visual maximalism saw a return in their color investment in the amount of foot traffic they got to their booth. Regardless of category, hall or time of day, color paid off in interactions.
#3 Let Your Product Speak for Itself
When your product is colorful, well designed, and capable of standing on its own, your best course of action may be to get out of its way. Using the product as a key design element allows buyers to directly interact with the product, quickly see how it can be merchandised effectively, and allows salespeople to quickly reference the real product.
#4 Make The Booth Interactive
Companies this year invested more in experiential elements of their booths. Big giveaway wheels and genuinely fun games took the high stakes out of the first step into the booth, allowing their team to engage the crowd beyond just a bite to try or a formal conversation. Like any good party host knows, some folks need the space to loosen up before they can get down to business. What better way to encourage a buyer to enter your booth than offer them a chance to win at Pinko (sales pitch included).
#5 Nix the Negative Space
While in theory allowing space in your booth for people to stand makes sense, we saw several examples of how too much of a good thing kept people from crossing the line into real engagement. Call it a consequence of the Covid years, but engaging people required more than just an open floor. Something for us all to keep in mind when we plan out how to be available to our customers – an opening isn’t enough anymore. Brainstorm ways to make engaging effortless.
#6 Rebel Against Minimalism
We know minimalism has been the prevailing design aesthetic for the majority of the past decade, with branding, interiors, and fashion slinking towards the sleek. We are noticing that this trend, while never out, is not the only player around. Bold maximalist designs align with this season of fun, and let brands show their personalities right up front.
#7 Rebel Against Your Category
Like the popularity of Wednesday Adams, sometimes we all just like to be a little goth. Death Wish Coffee took its category and turned it on its head with a bold, dark, saturated edge. The coffee category, often now conflated with it’s natural ally, the plant-based milk category, left space for Death Wish to push past the routine of coffee, to the rebellion of coffee, teaching us that sometimes we can look for the ways that products and companies can remind us to leave the commonplace behind.
#8 Embrace Your Roots
Where are you from? Why are you here? What makes you special? What will make me special if I buy you? Consumers love a good origin story and they want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. It’s true of superhero movies and it’s true of where they choose to spend their money. Booths that managed to draw attendees into a narrative got their full attention. Sometimes your brand identity isn’t bright, pink, or goth. Sometimes your brand is the land you grow on, the farmers who pick your product, or the aunt who made your hot sauce recipe. Authenticity never goes out of style.
#9 Be Different
Let the agency run wild with your key idea. Smarty Pants Vitamins had to know that getting a vitamin sample was not going to stop anyone in their tracks, but finding a section of show floor that was completely empty to highlight the additives that are missing from their product was an impactful presentation and made it more likely that retail buyers will remember them after the show. I hope they had a strong post-show eblast to ask for meetings.
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