How a coffee bar at your exhibition can boost your business leads

After bringing 1678 new leads to our most recent client this week, we felt compelled to update and share this article. So get comfy and enjoy a little consumer psychology.

Two words are key here: Give and take.

Every culture in the world operates by an overwhelming rule – a favour must always be returned. The corollary to this rule is that nobody likes to be in the position where they owe a favour to someone else and they haven’t yet had the opportunity to repay it. It’s just an uncomfortable feeling.

This is commonly known by psychologists and salesmen as the rule of reciprocation, or sometimes the psychology of obligation.

Robert Cialdini, in his seminal book Influence – The psychology of persuasion, calls it “one of the most potent of the weapons of influence around us.”

So where does the rule of reciprocation come into it when we are talking about a coffee bar on an exhibition or trade stand?

The key to the rule is that the person who grants the first favour has much greater influence on the nature or timing of the favour to be used to repay it.

By giving visitors to your stand a finely crafted and well presented coffee with a smile and a hello, while they are tired after a long conference or have sore feet from walking the halls of the exhibition, you have a short window to define the return favour.

It might be a business card, a positive tweet, an opinion on a product, a quick answer to a survey, or simply the scanning of their delegate badge to take their email address. All of these things are reasonable return favours for a much-needed coffee while the rule of reciprocation is in effect.

It’s a universal rule. Sociologists such as Alvin Goulder can report that there is no human society that does not subscribe to the rule of reciprocation.

So, a quality giveaway on an exhibition stand does allow you to maximise the value you are getting from your time on that stand. Coffee is not the only giveaway that will work, but can work very well, particularly if customers queue to be presented with a hand crafted drink that they perceive of as high quality.

We have proved over our years of doing this, that coffee in exchange for a scanned delegate badge can grow our customers’ email lists exponentially.

This picture was taken for a client of ours just this week, and suffice to say they were happy with the results.

If you would like to learn more about Ristretto and what we can do for your event of exhibition stand, then check out our custom branding options, and if you like, drop us an enquiry.


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