Manufacturers, especially those involved in consumer goods, have several options to market their products. Apart from setting up retail outlets or tapping the online tools, many participate in exhibitions.

The State and Central Governments provide financial assistance through different schemes to those who want to participate in the expos. Assistance is available for stall cost, travel expenses, etc, depending on the scheme.

M. Padmapriya of Aathira makes jute and fabric products through self help group members. She participates in 10 to 15 exhibitions a year, including those in other cities in the State. Stocks for at least Rs. 1 lakh is needed to participate in an exhibition. Though it involves travel and transport of goods, a participant can earn about Rs. 50,000 by setting up a stall for just four days in an exhibition, depending on the products, she says.

Ms. Padmapriya says taking part in exhibitions has several advantages.

It gives business leads, corporate orders and new product ideas. Setting up a retail outlet involves shop rent, advance, etc.

Sales at exhibitions are on-the- spot purchases. Customer feedbacks and requirements at the fairs help her develop new products and cater to different types of buyers.

Agencies such as the National Jute Board and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) extend financial support to small-scale manufacturers to help them in marketing, she says.

An official at NABARD says it provides the assistance directly to organisations that conduct exhibitions and the organisers invite SHGs and small-scale manufacturers to take part in the events.

With assistance available under the Integrated Powerloom Development Scheme, the Regional Office of the Textile Commissioner conducted a buyer-seller meet here targeting direct customers and wholesale buyers. The participants were direct powerloom product manufacturers.

The response from the visitors is very encouraging and some of the manufacturers from North India received bulk orders from the retailers here, says an official.

Micro and small-scale units that make the end products are those who mainly take part in exhibitions.

The job-working manufacturing units have buyers and make specific components that these buyers need. Hence, most of them do not take part in exhibitions, say the micro enterprise association representatives here.