Perhaps the exhibitions industry shouldn’t be too worried about younger, digitally-obsessed generations shunning face-to-face contact. According to a new study [download page] from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 61% of Millennials aged 18-27 believe that exhibits at exhibitions, conventions and annual meetings are more valuable today than they were 2 years ago. That’s the highest percentage of any generation, with older Millennials and young Gen Xers (aged 28-39; 53%) the next-most confident about the growing value of face-to-face interaction in this setting.
Millennials are less convinced about the growing value of face-to-face interaction when it comes to sales calls, but again demonstrate more conviction than their older counterparts. 38% of 18-27-year-old respondents said these interactions have become more valuable over the past 2 years, compared to 35% of older Millennials and older Gen Xers (40-49), 31% of Boomers (50-64) and 30% of Traditionalists (65+).
The study finds that a similar pattern applies to anticipated value of these interactions in the next 2 years. For example, 55% of the youngest age group believe that face-to-face contact through exhibits will become more valuable in the next 2 years, versus roughly 4 in 10 Boomers and Traditionalists. And one-third of the young demo anticipates growing value in face-to-face sales calls, compared to 23% of Traditionalists.
As those results suggest, online interactions aren’t having a negative effect on face-to-face activities. Instead, survey results indicate that the younger the attendee, the more likely they are to say that online interactions lead to increased participation in face-to-face activities.
About the Data: The Role and Value of Face-to-Face Interaction study series examines the long-term value of face-to-face marketing and exhibitions in particular in light of major economic fluctuations and the influx of technology and alternative marketing tactics, including digital media. More than 9,000 attendees and 800 exhibitors participated in this initiative.