The CIIE 2023 expo: A high quality exposure opportunity in the Chinese market

July 5, 2023
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Meet China’s movers and shakers face to face.

The China International Import Expo Enterprise & Business Exhibition (CIIE) takes place every year in Shanghai at the initiative and under the sponsorship of the Chinese Government. The expo sprawls across broad exhibition grounds and contains an impressive representation of the leading technology companies in the world working in China.

Participation is a priceless opportunity to acquire nearly free PR, as well as form connections with both government officials and leading companies from across China’s various provinces, including inland provinces with fewer international connections. This is a chance to meet potential clients, distributors, and strategic partners face-to-face, not just on-screen. Indeed, during the 2022 expo, President Xi Jinping addressed participants via video, and various senior CCP officials attended as well. A similar official engagement is expected to occur in 2023 as well.

The uniqueness of the CIIE expo lies in its focus on China’s imports rather than exports. Unlike other expos in China, the CIIE is not about China-out; it is all about China-in. The priority given to its establishment by government decisions highlights the importance of this event and its potential for fostering connections among participants. These decisions have been made with the goal of expanding market access for China to the wider world, promoting the circulation of goods both internally and externally, strengthening China’s economic ties with other countries, and creating broader markets for enterprises within China.

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The largest expo yet in the post COVID-19 world

The 2023 expo has booked over 200,000 square meters, located at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai.

In contrast to the two prior expos, the 2023 national exhibition will be held fully offline, with the aim of promoting face-to-face communications between companies and between companies and officials, as well as setting down the infrastructure for carrying out roadshows in China.

As in previous expos, six major sections will be set up in the business exhibition:

  • Intelligent industry and information technology
  • Automobiles
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Consumer goods
  • Medicine and Healthcare
  • Service trade
  • There should be also an incubator section – where micro-organizations can attend

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Getting ready for CIIE

As the CIIE is a high-level, more general exhibition, many companies show up with the wrong expectations of what they want to get out of their participation. It is important to understand that the CIIE might not be your ultimate industry expo with a specific cluster of potential clients visiting you should still clearly set your goals to make the most out of the opportunities the CIIE does offer. What are you after?

  • Securing new local partners?
  • Expanding your market penetration and attracting new partners?
  • Forming a personal connection with influential government officials and agencies?
  • Identify and learn more about your competition?
  • Build up on the PR opportunity?

These are all good reasons for setting up a booth at CIIE – but the presentation, personnel selection, and many other factors are heavily dependent on how you prioritize each of these goals. Thinking about this ahead of time will help you optimize the return on your investment.

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Optimizing marketing appeal and accessibility at the expo

The best possible presentation is not going to do much if the people attending the CIIE don’t register your company’s contact details and offers. Our experience has been that many salespeople forget to share their or the company’s QR code with individuals interested in their booth. Drawing attention to the booth QR code requires little investment in time or effort and will result in high returns.

The same applies to gifts or souvenirs – which can also, of course, be emblazoned with the code and contact details of your company. However, be mindful of China’s green policy: visitors do already get a bag at the entrance, and the best gift, in China as anywhere, is one that the visitors won’t dispose of as soon as they are out of site. Get creative and think of something which is both useful and aesthetic that your visitors will want to keep – and remember your company and its products by.

By the same measure offering digital marketing material, rather than printed pamphlets, is not just the moral and environmentally friendly thing to do – it is also quite compatible with 2023 Chinese norms and offers you the opportunity to create an ongoing interaction with visitors to your pavilion.

When engaging in marketing activities, know your audience! If you are presenting for a business-official audience, try to organize a limited audience product launch – having crowds milling around your targets will not improve their engagement. On the other hand, always be on the lookout for a fun way to engage your audience and make them smile. The impact of a little fun can be quite substantial.

CIIE offers private meeting rooms and areas for events which some organizations utilize for roadshows, product demonstrations, or face-to-face business meetings in a better, quieter environment.

Don’t miss out on China’s Largest Import Exhibition

The China International Import Expo (CIIE) is the largest import expo in the world. This affords incredible opportunities for micro, small, medium, and large businesses to win exposure to the Chinese market that would be hard, and expensive, to come by in any other way.

Taking place between 5-10 November 2023, this is the chance for your company representatives to rub elbows with Chinese officials, business leaders, prospective clients – and the competition.

For your information:

Please note that though booth registration usually ends by May of each year, you can still attend as a visitor, and participate or even organize an internal event. Our recommendation – if you haven’t tried it yet, plan to visit Shanghai during the upcoming CIIE in November and see for yourself. This is a great opportunity that any International Company looking to do business in China should explore.

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