• trade fairs;
  • exports;
  • export marketing;
  • machine tools;
  • innovation


Manufacturers pursuing information on potential customers in distant, dynamic markets confront myriad obstacles. To address this, many firms attend international trade fairs in order to market their products, to meet with prospective customers, and to tap into buzz related to potential international opportunities. In many ways, moreover, such exhibitions can serve as short-term agglomerations of same-industry activity, particularly important for producer–user interface geared towards innovation. The goal of this paper is to explore how Korean machine tool manufacturers utilise a major global trade show in Seoul to minimise the difficulties associated with accessing a global customer base, inclusive of their activity at this show geared towards innovation. Evidence from firm-level surveys and interviews suggest that the amount of importance placed on trade fair attendance as part of a firm's internationalisation strategies is related to export growth. Additionally, a new insight generated is that firms that participate in trade shows as part of their innovation process also demonstrate higher rates of export intensity. Finally, we may be witnessing newly discovered, technology-driven, symbiotic relationships between online portal sites, vendors, and potential customers at these trade fairs, where virtual services are nonetheless augmented by a need for a continued onsite presence at these exhibitions.