Using Tradeshows as Focus Groups

In: ideas| marketing

11 May 2009

When we first considered launching the WingDipper as an actual business, we spent a lot of time debating whether or not it was a good idea and a potentially viable business. We were also unsure about pricing, and distribution options. Having no real experience in the foodservice industry, we weren’t even sure if this product was something restaurants would want. We had a lot of learn, as we were basically starting from scratch. And we were unsure where to start.

We ended up deciding to exhibit at a tradeshow, to gauge reactions to the product, find the right price point, make industry contacts, and learn more about the food business as a whole. And being the kind of guys who like to take big leaps, we decided that the National Restaurant Association Foodshow in Chicago, the industry’s largest show, would be where we introduced the WingDipper to the restaurant world.

Looking back, it stills seems a bit crazy. We went to the show with a prototype of the cup, had no pricing to speak of, and had absolutely no product to sell. But we got the idea in front of potential customers, saw their reactions, discussed their business, and found out what they were paying for plastic cups now and what they would consider paying for the WingDipper. It was a relatively small investment up front to determine if the business was worth pursuing. And the information we learned was priceless.

If you have an idea, tradeshows can be a great way to gather opinions and feedback from the same people you’d be selling to down the road. Of course, it doesn’t always make sense to judge an idea on the reactions from just one show. But it can be a powerful tool in your arsenal to make sure you’re on the right track.

Share Button

2 Responses to Using Tradeshows as Focus Groups


The Problem with Pitchmen (and other shows about inventors) | Websterism - Big Ideas. Small Budgets.

May 24th, 2009 at 3:29 PM

[…] a toe in the water before jumping in, is a much better approach. In an earlier post, we discussed using a tradeshow to get feedback on your idea. Depending on the product, a craft show or farmer’s market could […]


5 Ways to NOT Waste Money When Exhibiting at a Tradeshow | Websterism - Big Ideas. Small Budgets.

June 17th, 2009 at 11:46 PM

[…] probably obvious that I have had tradeshows on the brain lately. But it is also no secret that I am a big fan of them. When done right, exhibiting at a […]

Mark Webster

About Mark Webster

One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.