Attendee motivation, learning objectives and perceived ROI of b-to-b exhibitions can vary depending on your gender, according to a b-to-b survey from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) “Gender Differences and Similarities.” The report, which polled b-to-b show organizers from a variety of industry sectors, offers a key takeaway: Whereas more women attend events for inspiration, educational sessions and the experience, men overall are more focused in supplier prospecting, building those relationships and experiencing new technology. Following is a look at key gender variances sited in the report that could inform your event marketing strategy.
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Reasons for Attending
While shopping and learning rank high on the list of objectives regardless of gender, men place more importance on building relationships with suppliers (70 percent), prospecting for new ones (60 percent) and discovering new technology (87 percent). Women place higher importance on specific learning objectives, such as keeping up-to-date with industry trends (92 percent), personal development (83 percent) and idea generation (81 percent). But the largest gap between the genders lies in the experiential category. More women (86 percent) said an important objective for attending was the experience, compared to 69 percent of men, with an even larger gap between the genders in the category of finding inspiration, motivation or the ability to recharge—83 percent of women versus 60 percent of men.
Engagement With Pre-Planned Activities
The study suggests that pre-planning activities for a b-to-b exhibition event occur regardless of gender and are more likely to produce a positive experience for attendees, but the purposes for pre-planning differ between men and women. More men rank face-to-face meetings with exhibitors (47 percent) and attendees (34 percent) as important, whereas women focus more on learning and experiential aspects of the event through educational sessions (65 percent compared to 46 percent) and an event’s activities (32 percent compared to 24 percent).
For both men and women, popular ways to track activities at b-to-b events include collecting product literature and obtaining business cards from exhibitors as well as from those of peers, colleagues and experts they’ve encountered. However, more men use badge scanners to track collection of production information, while women are more likely to take photos of products that interest them. When it comes to notetaking at sessions attended, women track activities with the method far more than men do (60 percent versus 36 percent).
The ROI Factor
When evaluating the ROI of an event, women placed more importance on the level of inspiration the event provided, the quality of the activities, the ability to participate and interact during sessions and education to help advance their careers. Categories more important to men were identifying new products and technologies and communicating with vendors. In fact, for men the second most valued source of information for business information and purchasing decision needs, behind b-to-b exhibits, is communicating with vendors. For women, the second most valued source is communicating with their peer network.
Photo courtesy: iStock/jotily
*This article was originally published in 2019 and is updated periodically