Expo West Tradeshow booth - overhead shot of north hall with so many people between rows of booths that no one can move

Best Tradeshow Booth Designs – Natural Products Expo West 2023

Expo West Tradeshow booth - overhead shot of north hall with so many people between rows of booths that no one can move
Its takes great design, execution, and excitement to stand out in this crowd (one hall of 8)

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?

Expo West Tradeshow booth - people in an aisle
We got stuck in traffic... at the show

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.

Expo West Tradeshow booth - rows and rows of product in a rainbow of color
Best use of an 8ft table. It was beautiful in person.

#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).

Expo West Tradeshow booth - plinko board being used at a booth
PLINKO - Brazi Bites plinko board made interacting with the brand fun

#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.

Expo West Tradeshow booth - mostly empty booth with one rack of samples and one sampling station 20 ft apart
Negative space in booths didn’t seem to draw folks in – this season was all about packing in the fun.

#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.

Expo West Tradeshow booth - booth, freezers, and staff are wearing an overwhelming number of colors and patterns
Designs don’t have to be minimalist. When the agency asks if you'd like print number 1 or 2, feel free to say "both." Swoon embraced maximalism and visually displayed that the number one factor of this brand is fun.

#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.

Expo West Tradeshow booth - coffee booth with an overwhelming amount of dark graphics and displays
You won't find a quiet coffee grower story here. This experiential brand is standing out from the crowd with personality and a goth twist – Death Wish Coffee Co. took their brand identity and made it three stories tall, giving them some of the most buzz we saw in the coffee category.

#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.

Engaging Discussions Enable Confident Decisions™

When you’re busy with the daily demands of your job, it’s easy to overlook the opportunities that will drive long-term growth. When you become a member of a Drive Wheel peer group, you can identify new strategies, reduce risk, and make confident decisions that will grow your business faster and more strategically.

We host two-day in-person meetings twice a year where leaders discuss their new strategies, innovation plans, and business challenges to get feedback from their peers. Members leave the meeting knowing they have thought about their idea from every angle. Between meetings, we conduct benchmarking studies and weekly news roundups to keep our members informed about changes in the industry.


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