Industry Insights

A PR Agency’s take on Trade Show Trends

March 16, 2023

With events and conferences making a full-force comeback, there’s no denying that the trade show landscape has undergone significant changes post-COVID. Returning from one of the biggest trade shows in the country, Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim California, we are providing a PR agency’s take on the tactics we saw brands deploy to ensure the greatest impact of the show and emerging CPG trends we saw on display.

Top Trade Show Trends from a Food PR Agency

The evolving trade show landscape brings new trends, and our team saw some of these trends and tactics in practice at this year’s Expo West.

A PR Agency’s Perspective on Where Clients Can Find Value in Today’s Trade Show Landscape

Space for Networking

One of the greatest shifts post-COVID has been the reduction in retailer buyer meetings taking place at key trade shows that were commonplace pre-pandemic. Now, virtual buyer meetings, typically handled pre-show, have shifted the importance away from an in-booth buyer meeting aimed at introducing the brand and product. That’s happening weeks if not months before the show. However, buyers still “walk“ and stop by booths to say ”hello“ and put a face with a name. As such, trade shows now more than ever are critical for building those in-person relationship restricted by our new virtual workplace.

Brands like Poppi, a prebiotic sparkling beverage, forwent large sampling tables, lounge seating and meeting tables (traditionally used for intimate and formal buyer meetings) for an open and inviting booth that created several areas for casual conversation and networking. The respite from the crazy congestion of the show aisle allowed for a better opportunity to tell their brand story, give a sneak peak at upcoming innovation, or meet their founder, all which have fallen to the waste-side as we have moved to virtual buyer meetings.

Simplified Product Line-up

We’ve found that the brands that make a big splash at trade shows are those that have a simplified product lineup. When a product is truly disruptive, a brand doesn’t need much to stand out from the crowd. Some examples include Chobani only using their creamer line at their booth, and Meati only showcasing their base products. Free of gimmicks, these brands were able to make a lasting impression with their products alone without a complicated presentation and set up.

Press Exposure for Show Coverage and Beyond

Similar to our networking insight for buyers, media outlet interactions are increasingly moving virtual. Trade shows like Expo West generate press exposure for our clients, as a lot of media outlets attend to build their relationships and get to know different brands to inform their coverage throughout the year. This year’s Expo West had media attendees from national outlets like Forbes, Food Network, E! News, and Outside Magazine, to name a few, learning about brands and mining for new story ideas. Clients have also voiced that they seek trade shows with speaking opportunities and awards, as it’s a way for a company’s CEO or executive to display their knowledge that they’ve applied to their products and the recognition they’ve received. Expo certainly fits the bill, with numerous panels, keynotes and the signature NEXTY Award honors.

As a public relations agency, we aim to ensure that our clients exhibit their brand in a clear and concise way that brings awareness to their latest launches. Having this kind of guidance can help a brand craft their presence at a trade show, as well as keep them aware of what the current trends are that can be integrated. It also presents the opportunity for us as a PR agency to put companies in front of the media, garnering more exposure for them.

CPG Trends We Saw at Expo West

This year, Anaheim’s Convention Center was packed with over 3,000 exhibitors sharing the latest and greatest in the CPG space. We took some time to walk the crowded floor to get a feel for whats next in the industry and here is what we found:

Variety of Supplement Formats

The supplement category has certainly been flourishing in recent years, with more consumers buying products that address their specific wellness needs. At Expo West, we saw a variety of supplement formats being exhibited. From chocolate and gummies to liquids and pills, we can expect to see more inventive ways for consumers to purchase supplements based on factors such as taste preferences to bioavailability.

Low Sugar Products are Still a Main Feature

Just like in years past, an area of low to zero sugar snacks, beverages, and candies were especially present at Expo West 2023. Companies using little to no sugar continues to be a main product differentiator, with the global sugar substitutes market expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.6% by 2027. This goes to show that it is beyond just a temporary fixation, and we can expect to see even more innovation in the space.

Bright Colored Packaging

With the health and wellness industry’s growth in recent years, brands have had to find ways to stand out in the abundance of products on the market. At this year’s show, we noticed a rise in packaging that included bright colors. This brings visibility for the brands, differentiates them from competitors, and showcases the overall creativity and vibrancy of their products.

Beverages Continue to Be Hot

The increase in information and education about functional beverages has brought on a rise of beverages with specific functional ingredients and benefits. We saw CPG brands exhibit beverages of all kinds at Expo West, addressing almost every demand in terms of ingredients and taste. These products included flavored and sparkling water, non-alcoholic drinks, fruit juice, and the ever-evolving sector of plant-based milks. This goes to show that the variety of beverages on the market is here to stay, and we foresee even more novelty products in this space being produced.

Family-Friendly Personal Care Products

One trend to come out of this that we saw at Expo West was personal care that is designed for the whole family to use. It appears that more and more consumers are wanting the convenience of products that are multi-use, and also choices that they can feel good about using on themselves, pets, and children. Whether it be skin care, hair products, body care, or oral care, we can look out for more innovative launches that target many different demographics.

Final Thoughts

Exhibiting at trade shows such as Expo West can introduce your brand to a wider audience, help you build and strengthen industry connections and garner valuable media coverage. If your brand needs trade show services and support, our stellar team has worked on trade shows like Expo West for clients for years and can help you find tremendous value in your next trade show experience.

Looking for a PR agency for your food or beverage brand to provide trade show services and support? Konnect with us!


Rebecca McGlynn has worked with Konnect Agency for nearly a decade, leading media relations strategy and 360 programming, specializing in the food and beverage industry, with experience ranging from innovative CPG brands to restaurant concepts and more. Rebecca leads day-to-day account marketing strategy, driving impactful results across verticals and ensuring a consistent narrative across platforms. 

Insider News & Trends Delivered Fresh To Your Inbox

No junk. Just insider tips and tricks to keep you on top of your game.

Let's Get to Work

In need of a new agency or have a new project and think we’d make a great partner? We’d love to hear more!

Just Looking to Say Hi?
Cool We're into It.

Have a questions about Konnect or just want to hear more about what we do? Drop us a line.

"*" indicates required fields

Looking to
the Krew?

We're a passionate group of like-minded people—some who've grown this thing from the ground up.

"*" indicates required fields

Drop files here or
Max. file size: 300 MB.
    Drop files here or
    Max. file size: 300 MB.