Canton Fair: Key Insights into the Oldest and Largest Trade Fair in China
The China Import and Export Fair, also known as Canton Fair, is the largest trade show in China and one of the largest in the whole world, as hundreds of thousands of people attend the event in order to find new and exciting products for their import/export business.Since its original inception in 1957, the Canton Fair has been held biannually in Guangzhou, China and is currently hosted within the halls of the China Import and Export Fair Complex, which sports over a million square meters of indoor and outdoor exhibitions. On the official China Import and Export Fair website, they report that in October 2018, the Canton Fair hosted 60,645 standard booths, saw 189,812 unique buyers in attendance, and had over 25,000 exhibitors across the fair’s expansive show floor.
This is a monumental event for importers across the globe, but due to the sheer size of the fair, it can be more than a little daunting to approach. With these Canton Fair tips, however, you can equip yourself with all of the information you'll need in order to decide if the Canton Fair is the place for you, and if so, how you can extract as much value from it as possible.
Know What You’re Getting Into
In their own words, “The Canton Fair serves as the first and foremost platform to promote China’s foreign trade, and [acts as] a barometer of the foreign trade sector. It is the window, epitome, and symbol of China’s opening up.” This event has never missed one of its biannual scheduling and is the place-to-be for anyone who is even remotely involved in the import/export business.
However, before you dive into this colossal trade show, you’re going to want to know what it is you’re getting into and how you can properly navigate your way throughout its labyrinthine maze of exhibitors and booths.
The Spring and Fall shows are each held in three phases, with each phase consisting of completely different vendors and products. This can get confusing, so let’s look at a breakdown of each phase:
Phase 1: Focuses on electrical, electronic, and industrial products and covers most of China’s latest and most high-tech products.
Phase 2: Focuses on labor-intensive products like groceries, ornaments, gifts, home decorations, and other consumer goods.
Phase 3: Focuses primarily on clothing and textile-based products such as office supplies, recreational products, medicines, health products, food, and more.
Making a Gameplan
For an event this large, you’re going to want to have a game plan. Without some kind of roadmap for your time at the fair, you run the risk of spiraling off-track and losing focus of why you attended in the first place. To help you get started, here are some of the basic tasks you should prioritize in your Canton Fair planning:
Get a Chinese Visa
Make sure you have your Canton Fair badge
Travel with a co-worker or industry peer
Take business cards with you (lots of them)
Attend meet-ups and events around the fair
Speak directly to manufacturers
While these are all important and useful tools to make use of in your Canton Fair experience, let’s talk a bit about the last one on that list, because speaking with the manufacturers at the fair can be one of the smartest things you do.
There are a countless number of stands at the fair from trading companies, and while these are useful, if you can deal directly with a manufacturer, then do it. Manufacturers won’t only get you a better price on the products you’re looking for, but it’ll also help you build a meaningful and profitable relationship with the local manufacturers. This is a win-win situation that will only improve your profits and business efficiency.
A Hub of Ideas
If you’re looking for a place to find the newest and most exciting products in any given industry, then Canton Fair is the absolute best place to be. This is the event that many suppliers use as a launch pad for their best new offerings, and if you’re hoping to get in on the ground floor of a new trend, then you’ll want to pay attention.
While the Canton Fair isn’t the best outlet for businesses that have already been importing a particular product, there are few places better for those savvy importers who want to tap into an untapped industry or diversify their offerings.