PPAI Magazine December 2023

MEDIA.PPAI.ORG 12.23 IN THIS ISSUE Healthier Food Products p. 24 Be The Change p. 34 Political Promos p. 62 The State Of Growth p. 70 Their Time Is Now Meet the 2023 PPAI Rising Stars. p. 44

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4 From PPAI Progress Is Not The Enemy 8 Feedback Essentials 13 Creative Calendar 14 Use Case Great Give-Back 18 In Style Get On The Good Foot 24 Good Taste On The Healthier Side Voices 32 Solutions Is Talk Cheap? 34 Responsibility Be The Change 38 Innovation A Bird's-eye View Must Read 62 Promotional Products Work Create Winning Political Campaigns With Promo Community 82 Buzzworthy 84 PPPC Communiqué 87 Inside PPAI 98 New Members 103 Datebook 108 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 12.23 Their Time Is Now These young leaders have emerged as present and future dynamos in the promotional products industry. Meet the 2023 PPAI Rising Stars. 44 VOLUME 47, ISSUE 10 The State of Growth 2023 PPAI Research provides benchmarking on business fundamentals for distributors and suppliers of all sizes and awards high marks for growth to 20 new firms. 70 44 70 Leaders Growth 20 23 PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 3

From PPAI Dale Denham, MAS+ President & CEO 12.23 Progress Is Not The Enemy AS LEADERS, the thing that makes us most successful is often the true belief in the vision we have for our organizations. We have a gut instinct, then find proof to confirm that instinct and become determined to see it through, no matter what. And often, it’s to the detriment of ourselves and our businesses. I’ll give you an example from my personal life that illustrates the point: I used to be a diehard Android user. My first cellphone was a Nokia, and I stayed with it until the Blackberry came out. I loved my Blackberry until smartphones came out, and then I fell in love with Androids, specifically the Samsung Galaxy. All the while, my iPhone-using friends in the group chat looked down on me and complained about the green bubble when I texted them. (The green bubble in a text message thread is one way Apple brands Android users as subhuman, signifying that the exclusive iOS chat features don’t work when texting with this lesser species.) Still, I loved my Galaxy phone and often thought about all my good reasons. I was not anti-iPhone. In fact, the first phones I bought my kids were Apple phones. I knew how easy they were to use, and I also recognized they would be judged by their friends if they used anything besides an iPhone. Over time, I began to feel more excluded using my Samsung device. My family would play Game Pigeon, and I couldn’t play on my phone. Videos sent to the family text thread came through fuzzy. But I insisted that it was worth it because I loved my Samsung. I won’t bore you with my reasons, but they truly were good. Perfectly valid reasons. I was proud of myself for recognizing them. Over time, though, they stopped being good and valid. Things changed a lot. Apple had made progress, and I was only hurting myself by being its enemy. And so about two years ago, I made the switch. At first I focused on the things I did not like. Then I wanted to like the phone, but not too much. And eventually I embraced my iPhone and gave up trying to justify my previous viewpoint. Changing our minds on something so simple should not be hard, but it often is. It comes with the price of having to accept that we may have been wrong in the past. It is easier to hold true to our beliefs and stick with our tribe who shares our beliefs. But in doing that, we risk missing out on opportunities. This is a personal lesson I remind myself of often in leading PPAI, and I challenge you to think about what you have been doing in your business for a long time that is overdue for change. Not everything can or should be changed, but if you are open to thinking differently, consider testing the waters. I can identify with anyone still clinging to their Android. But now I know … that green bubble really is annoying. Changing our minds on something so simple should not be hard, but it often is. It comes with the price of having to accept that we may have been wrong in the past. If you are open to thinking differently, consider testing the waters. 4 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI

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PPAI® PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Josh Ellis JoshE@ppai.org DEPUTY EDITOR James Khattak JamesK@ppai.org NEWS EDITORS Jonny Auping JonnyA@ppai.org John Corrigan JohnC@ppai.org ASSOCIATE EDITOR Rachel Zoch RachelZ@ppai.org MARKET ECONOMIST & SENIOR MANAGER, RESEARCH Alok Bhat alokb@ppai.org RESEARCH MANAGER Robert Fitzpatrick RobertF@ppai.org ART DIRECTION SPARK Publications SPARKpublications.com 704-844-6080 ADVERTISING MANAGEMENT ACCOUNT MANAGERS Connie Brazil 972-258-3064 ConnieB@ppai.org Taylor Coward 972-258-3033 TaylorC@ppai.org Heather Mangold 972-258-3067 HeatherM@ppai.org Sandy Mendoza 972-258-3019 SandyM@ppai.org ADVERTISING CONTACT Danah Dean 972-258-3031 DanahD@ppai.org PRESIDENT & CEO Dale Denham, MAS+ 888-I-AM-PPAI DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Lindsey Davis, MAS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT Alan Peterson DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY & SUSTAINABILITY Elizabeth Wimbush VICE PRESIDENT, REVENUE AND EXPOSITIONS Ellen Tucker, MAS, CAE DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Keith Vincent DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CW Karstens BOARD OFFICERS CHAIR OF THE BOARD Kevin Walsh, CAS Showdown Displays IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR Dawn Olds, MAS HALO CHAIR-ELECT OF THE BOARD Andrew Spellman, CAS Therabody VICE CHAIR, FINANCE SERVICES Denise Taschereau Fairware BOARD MEMBERS TERM EXPIRING 2024 Tom Goos, MAS Image Source AT-LARGE DIRECTOR TERM EXPIRING 2024 Melissa Ralston, Koozie Group TERMS EXPIRING 2025 Karie Cowden, MAS Connect the Dots Promotions Andrew Spellman, CAS Therabody TERMS EXPIRING 2026 Chris Anderson HPG Denise Taschereau Fairware TERMS EXPIRING 2027 Dan Pantano alphabroder Joshua White BAMKO REGIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE DELEGATE TERM EXPIRING 2027 Kara Keister, MAS Social Good Promotions PPAI HEADQUARTERS 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, Texas 75038-3526 Phone: 888-IAM-PPAI (426-7724) www.ppai.org, pubs.ppai.org READER RESOURCES SUBSCRIBE TO PPAI MAGAZINE: Subscribe online at pubs.ppai.org or send your name, title, company name and mailing address, along with phone and fax, to PPB Subscriptions, 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, Texas 75038. Or phone in your subscription to 972-258-3019. Include payment with your order. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted, along with checks. Additional member subscriptions are $58 for PPAI member companies (U.S.), $70 (Canada and Mexico) and $75 (international). Nonmember subscriptions are $72 (U.S.), $82 (Canada and Mexico) and $92 (international). Please allow four to six weeks for start of subscription. ADVERTISE IN PPAI MAGAZINE: Download a media kit with rates and specs for all PPAI print and digital publications at media.ppai.org, or call 972-258-3019 or email mediasales@ppai.org. WRITE FOR PPAI MAGAZINE: The magazine regularly accepts articles from both professional writers and industry experts – like yourself. Find out everything you need to know about submitting an article or an idea by reading PPAI’s Writer’s Guidelines available at media.ppai.org/submit-content. Promotional Products Association International 6 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI

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Send feedback on articles in PPAI Magazine or opinions on industry issues to JamesK@ppai.org. Feedback 12.23 Pumping Iron Jenna Quaranta, vice president of sales and business innovation at supplier KNOSS Apparel and a personal trainer, shared a column on PPAI Media on how hitting the gym and working out can step up a sales professional’s game. Spot on! I am pretty balanced and self-disciplined, and working out with weights consistently is one of my “secrets” of success, both in the office and at home. Alan Tabasky President Bel Promo Medley, Florida PPAI 362224, S10 The Smart Choice In the October issue of PPAI Magazine, in his column “Don’t Be Stupid,” PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham, MAS+, wrote that it’s time for the industry to stop talking about its inefficiency problems and address them, and he encouraged every supplier to adopt Promo Data Exchange from PPAI. I’m so in agreement with this. I’m happy if the supplier has online inventory and a shipping calculator. That helps me so much. But it’s even better if it is integrated with SAGE. Julie Linhart Owner Swag Advantage Derby, Kansas PPAI 490637, D3 Keep making these advancements so more people become attracted to the industry instead of running from it! Brande Brown Sales Executive American Solutions for Business Orlando Florida PPAI 101656, D12 Love the absolutely on-point bluntness. This is stupid. I thought it was stupid eight years ago when I bought into the industry. Progress has been made, but not nearly enough. Michael Rosamond Owner Fully Promoted/Covington Covington, Louisiana IKO-studio / Shutterstock.com 8 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI

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PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 12.23 IN STYLE GET ON THE GOOD FOOT Step up your promo efforts with custom footwear, from bright logos woven into bespoke socks to one-of-a-kind shoes. page 18 CREATIVE CALENDAR p. 13 USE CASE p. 14 GOOD TASTE p. 24 PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 11

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Creative Calendar | Essentials If this calendar is helpful or if you have ideas for ways that we can better provide this information, email the editors at magazine@ppai.org January 4 NATIONAL TRIVIA DAY 10 NATIONAL HOUSEPLANT APPRECIATION DAY 13 NATIONAL STICKER DAY February 9 NATIONAL PIZZA DAY 20 NATIONAL COMFY DAY 22 NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY March 9 NATIONAL BARBIE DAY 14 NATIONAL PI DAY 19 NATIONAL BACKYARD DAY Exceptional Promotions NATIONAL WEDDINGS MONTH Product idea: It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Set someone up with a happy hour they’ll be hard-pressed to forget. This Margarita Kit includes everything you need for a virtual happy hour: a customizable cork coaster set, mango margarita instant cocktail mix, strawberry mule instant cocktail mix and a personalized note – all packed in a self-sealed envelope. Cheers! Batch & Bodega (HPG) / PPAI 110772, S11 hpgbrands.com/batch/ SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR NATIONAL WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH Product idea: The Day Tripper Sun Shelter is made of high-density material and has a sewn-in floor to keep out sand and dirt, plus a zippered back window for added wind flow. The shelter collapses into a round, flat carrying pouch with handles, and it’s light and portable at just 2 pounds. Instructions, with tent rope and stakes, are included. It’s perfect for the park, beach, backyard, company picnic and more. Ariel Premium Supply / PPAI 161650, S11 arielpremium.com Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Kristina Valdez NATIONAL HOBBY MONTH Product idea: The Live Life in Full Bloom planter is 100% organic, sustainable and biodegradable. Made of spruce wood and manufactured without glue or binders, this fertile fiber pot is ready to be placed outside in soil. Water, air and roots will penetrate the walls, meaning there’s no need for drainage holes. This kit includes a soil pod, seed packet, wooden stake and instructions. Germination time is about two to three weeks, although results may vary. Jornik Manufacturing / PPAI 111065, S6 / jornik.com PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 13

Essentials | Use Case Great Give-Back Industry pros reveal the products they use, the products they want and the products they would suggest. These product picks give back to charities and communities. Compiled by Kristina Valdez ROGER BURNETT Founder Social Good Promotions PPAI 758285, D3 Carey, Ohio Burnett says his favorite giveback program was an industry effort. “PromoCares’ Water4Good campaign was my favorite this year. A cross-section of industry suppliers pledged a portion of the proceeds from the second quarter to the benefit of Planet Water Foundation, who used the proceeds from this fundraising campaign to build AquaTowers in Mexico during their November 2023 installation. We had set a goal to build two towers, but six or seven were built instead! This was a landmark campaign [because we asked for] participation from both suppliers and distributors. We’re especially grateful to S&S Activewear and Hit Promotional Products, each of which made substantial commitments and contributions to the campaign.” This Jaclyn Bottle has a screw on, spill-resistant lid, an easy-carry strap and a wide-mouth opening. It’s made from recycled materials by melting down existing plastic bottles and other materials to create new polyester fiber from post-consumer recycled materials. Hand wash recommended. Hit Promotional Products PPAI 113910, S13 / hitpromo.net SewCreamStudio / Shutterstock.com 14 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials Burnett faithfully uses brands that have similar commitment to social good. “We’re huge fans of the BrüMate line [for] their commitment to giving back to causes like the Trevor Project and the Food Bank of the Rockies, among others. They are also members of the Conservation Alliance to help fund and advocate for the protection of North America’s wild and scenic natural beauty.” Enhance your drinking experience with the BrüMate Winesulator, your new go-to for transporting wine in style. It holds a full bottle of wine while maintaining the perfect temperature for more than 24 hours. The stainless steel bottle allows you to take your wine to the beach, pool, campsite or any other glass-free zone. HIRSCH / PPAI 221823, S10 / hirschpromo.com Burnett would suggest PCNA’s ProudPath program. “We really love the ProudPath program from PCNA. They’ve done a fantastic job of curating a selection of products across multiple categories and at all the important price points. They then add a ton of educational content to the product selections, and together, we’re able to tell a pretty compelling story to our clients and prospects built off the great work PCNA has done.” The Hilana Upcycled Yalova Ultra Soft Marbled Blanket is made with 50% recycled cotton. It’s extra durable and gets softer with each wash. Perfect for days at the pool or beach, the blanket will dry you quicker than a regular towel, and it will dry faster, too. PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15 / pcna.com KARIE COWDEN, MAS President Connect The Dots Promotions PPAI 368415, D3 Phoenix, Arizona Cowden also says her favorite give-back programs have happened with PromoCares, a volunteer-based group dedicated to corporate social responsibility. “As a board member of PromoCares, my favorite movements are the ones with these rock stars. We’ve hosted one or two give-back programs each year, and I’m continued to be blown away by [our] cooperation over competition. We have some amazing suppliers that step up in ways that are truly inspiring. Right now, PromoCares is [running the] Water4Good Campaign, and we will have teams travel down to Mexico to be hands-on in the experience. When you can link product with an experience and then spin it for good, wow!” All proceeds from the “Water Is A Human Right” tee will be donated to the Planet Water Foundation. PromoCares thanks S&S Activewear (PPAI 256121, S12) for donating the tees, Supacolor (PPAI 820922, S00) for donating the digital transfers and PromoHunt (PPAI 720961, A1) for making and shipping these tees. It’s a 50/50 combed ring spun USA-premium cotton/polyester fine jersey with a ribbed collar, side seams, and a tearaway label. S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12 / ssactivewear.com PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 15

MEL HUBNER Director of Social Impact and Sustainability Brand Fuel PPAI 277900, D8 Raleigh, North Carolina Hubner’s favorite giveback product is the Duo Sip Tumbler from Elemental Bottles. “Elemental is a certified minority-owned brand, and they donate 3% of their annual profits to nonprofits like charity: water and Beautify Earth. I love it when drinkware companies support projects to increase access to clean, safe drinking water. It makes sense. But supporting art and creativity through Beautify Earth is very aligned with Brand Fuel’s values as well. We believe art and music can uplift communities, and it’s nice to see Elemental supporting the same cause. “The Duo Sip Tumbler is also a fantastic product. Keeping circular economy principles in mind, I really like it when products are designed for multiple purposes. The lid swap system is so simple, yet very impactful. Personally, I would love to have just a couple of my favorite tumblers and a few lids to use depending on what I’m drinking, versus several tumblers and tops.” Elemental Bottles / PPAI 770416, S1 / elementalpromo.com Cowden says she wants to try a festival-type give-back program. “I think that pulling together local celebrities and talent brings the crowds. It’s brewing in my mind, but I haven’t formulated it yet. We have suppliers that have built-in give-back programs, and I try to push my clients to those lines when it makes sense. I love seeing how our industry has seen the benefit in products tied to give-back campaigns.” This Three-Piece Disc Golf Set is perfect for fun at music festivals and parks. The set includes a short-range disc, mid-range disc and driver disc. It also includes an eco-friendly bag with adjustable straps for easy carrying on the course. PCNA partnered with 1% For The Planet to donate 1% of sales of their EcoSmart line to environmental nonprofits. PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15 / pcna.com Cowden would encourage her clients to think creatively. “In 2018, we worked with a client to raise money for a local homeless shelter. We had a great location and time of year, but it was becoming stagnant. Our team worked together to create an event that was still at the right time of year and in a great location, but added a world record to the mix. Giving went up 67%. The other ripple effect was the current record holders started competing with us, and we both increased giving and had some fun with social media. The world record was ‘The most people running a 1K in branded flip-flops.’” The Hari Mari Men’s Pier Flip Flops have memory foam for instant comfort, as well as a soft, water-resistant nubuck leather strap and firm arch support that keeps feet in proper position. The durable, crepe-textured rubber outsole is boatsafe, providing extra grip with 100% rubber traction. Hit Promo donates 5% of the profits from its AWS line to charities including Shriners, American Cancer Society, Make-a-Wish and St. Jude’s. Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S13 / hitpromo.net Essentials | Use Case 16 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials Hubner faithfully uses this custom notebook. “This has recently become one of my favorite notebooks. I love that it’s made with FSC-certified recycled paper, and it’s made in the U.S. Denik’s mission to enhance the education experience of thousands of students across the globe is truly inspiring. Especially when it comes to notebooks (which we have several options to choose from), it feels right to order from Denik – knowing that every time we order their products, we are also supporting one of their school projects.” Denik / PPAI 766866, S4 / denik.com Hubner would suggest this uber-soft hoodie to her clients. “This is a cozy one! It’s warm and soft – made with 100% fair trade organic cotton. tentree is a fellow certified B Corp, and each purchase supports their goal of planting 1 billion trees by 2030. Additionally, every tentree item has a tag with a unique code specific to the trees that the product helped plant – a great, meaningful way to engage with the end recipient. But it doesn’t stop there. This tentree hoodie is also part of PCNA’s ProudPath collection, which means that 1% of its purchase is donated to environmental nonprofits through PCNA’s partnership with 1% for the Planet.” PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15 / pcna.com Valdez is a writer for PPAI. PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 888.287.7883 www.americanaccents.com Scan for more info! Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums GRIP-IT™ JAR OPENERS Soft, durable texture adds gripping power • 170+ stock shapes available • Custom shapes available • Digitally die cut; no extra fee • Digitally printed with 4-Color process • Multiple colors & sizes to choose from 50 piece minimums PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 17

Get On The Good Foot Step up your promo efforts with custom footwear, from bright logos woven into bespoke socks to one-of-a-kind shoes. By Rachel Zoch WHEN IT COMES TO APPAREL, promo has you covered from head to toe. Custom woven dress socks remain the most popular footwear with customers, but the range of brandable shoes – including name brands and high-quality dupes – is expanding. “Socks are a super inexpensive way to brand,” says Amelia Madl, PromoCorner VP of supplier sales. “The shoes are obviously a little bit more expensive. They’re custom made. You have to be more specific when you’re ordering, because everybody has a shoe size.” Cola Henderson, co-founder and operations director of MYLO Brand Studio in Omaha, Nebraska, said one of their first self-promos was handing out socks at networking events. “Socks are a lot of fun, and I think people always enjoy them and have some fun,” she says. “It’s pretty cost-effective and affordable, yet you’re still getting a really great product.” Henderson loves that socks provide a useful apparel item without having to worry about sizing. She says a fun, eye-catching design is key to keeping your branded socks on recipients’ feet (and minds), and she appreciates that suppliers are great at coming up with clever ideas. 18 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

Frogella / GoodStudio / Shutterstock.com “The supplier partners that we have are just so good when it comes to design,” Henderson says. “You can send them not much of anything in a logo, and they take it and come up with some really cool concepts. They’re fantastic. To have design partners like that definitely makes our job easier.” Although shoes take a little more effort than socks and even apparel due to the sizing challenge, it can be well worth it, Henderson adds. “People are going to love it, but it is going to be a little more work to make sure that it’s successful in the end,” she says. Promo suppliers have expanded their kicks capabilities well beyond simple printed canvas sneakers in recent years, so there’s something for everyone. “We’re seeing people want something a little bit more unique and different,” says Samantha Fullerton, a Canadian senior account executive with Californiabased distributor BAMKO, No. 4 in the PPAI 100, adding that Ugg-style slippers and Crocs-style clogs (beloved by Gen Z) have been especially popular. “I think that’s probably been the biggest push for shoes and footwear that I’ve seen in our industry in a really long time.” She also suggests trying custom shoe accessories like shoelaces and charms (aka Jibbitz), as well as branded shoe boxes and tissue paper. For a professional yet fun look, Madl says outfitting your team with matching custom sneakers is a great finishing touch for trade shows and other events. “I just think they look really slick,” she says. “Anytime we have regional shows, all the board members have matching shoes, but with their logo.” Here are just a few of the shoe and sock options promo has to offer. Ordering can be as easy as 1-2-3 with Simpler Socks. Choose a templated design and one of nine colorways, then add your client’s logo for a custom look and feel without the complexity of designing from scratch. Add custom presentation elements like hang tags, belly bands/wraps or boxes for added impact. Pop! Promos / PPAI 564497, S1 / poppromos.com PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 19 In Style | Essentials

Add custom Clog Charms to The Clog, 100% custom printed shoes made of cushy molded plastic, for an interactive way to promote your client’s brand. For a customizable classic sneaker, check out The Smith. “I wore them every day of the trade show, and I did not have sore feet, which was amazing,” says Madl. “They are very soft and cushy.” One pair minimum order for both styles. Custom boxes available for an additional fee. SOCK101 / PPAI 625402, S6 / sock101.com Custom sports socks are perfect for casual office gifts or team uniforms. These Cotton Athletic Crew Socks are made in the USA from USA-grown cotton grown. With added cushion at the heel and toe and compression in the footbed and ankle, this style is built for comfort and long-lasting wear. Sock Club / PPAI 692671, S1 custom.sockclub.com 20 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

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Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. Choose from a variety of custom knit sock styles, such as athletic or daily-wear knee, crew, quarter and no-show. Daily Crew Socks, made of a cotton/poly blend with a touch of spandex for stretch, are the most popular and offer a custom woven design with up to six colors horizontally and 10 vertically (PMS matching available) and optional embellishments like fuzzy patches for animal designs. Let’s Support / PPAI 717765, S1 / letssupport.com Beach resorts and leisure-minded brands can make an impression with Classic Flip Flops – especially with the optional logo sole footprint that literally leaves your imprint in the sand. Other upgrades include a branded nylon mesh bag and fabric straps with silkscreen or embroidery. For another comfort-minded shoe, consider Kozi Sherpa Slippers with a one-color imprint on top (or upgrade to a woven patch for full color). Neet Feet (The Kanata Group) / PPAI 111063, S7 / neetfeet.com For ski resorts or winter hiking destinations, opt for some ultra-cozy Merino Wool Socks, made in the USA and available in weaves designed specifically for ski or hiking boots. The hiking socks are soft, breathable and moisturewicking, while the ski socks are padded in the right areas and super-comfy all over. Custom Sock Lab / PPAI 824539, S0 www.customsocklab.com PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 23 In Style | Essentials

BUSINESSES USE PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS to surprise and delight recipients, and who doesn’t love a privatelabeled chocolate bar or custom cookie? But these sweet treats don’t make sense for every promotion. After all, a buttery cookie from your doctor’s office or gym would send a confusing message. When a wellness theme makes more sense, there are plenty of promo options for healthier snacks, as well as spices and teas. Locally sourced goodies are also in high demand, with many distributors looking for partners in their area when building fully custom kits for clients. It’s just a matter of creative sourcing – and making sure your clients know you can do it, says Cola Henderson, co-founder and operations director of MYLO Brand Studio, a distributor based in Omaha, Nebraska. “It’s a never-ending education process for us, because there’s so much available in this industry, and we have incredible capabilities and resources,” she adds, “but people don’t know what they don’t know.” People with food allergies are also a growing market that remains underserved. “In our industry, I feel On The Healthier Side Promo has plenty of options for custom candy, cookies and other sweet treats, but customers also want snacks, spices and teas that support health and wellness. By Rachel Zoch 24 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

Indigo Photo Club / Shutterstock.com like there’s a real hole for that – there’s no real great options out there for certified nut-free or anything,” says Javier Melendez, a national account executive with Massachusetts-based distributor Walker-Clay. Melendez, who is allergic to nuts, thinks there’s significant potential in promo for the allergy-friendly food niche, even if it means sourcing a retail brand. He’s not the only one. “We are seeing more healthy and allergen-sensitive snack requests,” says Nick Lateur, director of sales for Massachusetts-based supplier HPG, which offers a “MyBatch” tool so you can build your own custom kit from their assortment of snacks and other items. Here are just a handful of the more health-conscious snack options in promo. Herbal teas are a wellness staple. Rooibos tea is free of caffeine but full of antioxidants, and drinking it may have positive effects on blood pressure and cholesterol. Send a Tea Tube with Story Booklet featuring your client’s logo and a stock or fully custom design. “They’re wildly creative people, so giving them a theme and letting them come up with copy is fun,” says Samantha Fullerton, a Canadian senior account executive with Californiabased distributor BAMKO. Available in five flavors. Le Tour de Spice / PPAI 762815, S3 / letourdespice.com Fullerton also recommends Sofia’s Cookies for bulk snacks – like the new Spicy Guac Mix, a blend of spicy peanuts, seasoned seeds, corn and guacamole crisps – that are packaged in airtight canisters that can be customized with full-color labels, including each individual recipient’s name. “They do really nice mailer boxes, and I love that you can personalize them,” she says. “They’re fabulous.” Sofia’s Cookies / PPAI 481271, S1 / sofiascookies.com PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 25 Good Taste | Essentials

It may not be exactly healthy, but this Gluten-Free Vegan Snack Kit provides an allergy-friendly option with treats that are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. The customizable box is available in small or large and comes stuffed with brand-name snacks such as popcorn, kettle chips, veggie straws and Sour Patch Kids. Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, S3 / midnitesnax.com PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 888.287.7883 www.americanaccents.com Scan for more info! Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums • Choice of cardstock or Grip-It™ material • Several colors to choose from • Digitally printed with 4-Color process • 20+ stock shapes available BOOKMARKS 50 piece minimums Great for book fairs and school events! 26 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

Hey, popcorn is a whole grain! Give a wholesome snack and reusable popper with this Movie Night Gourmet Popcorn Gift Set, which includes a W&P silicone popper bowl, assorted Urban Accent nonGMO popcorn kernels and multiple seasoning shakers. Gemline / PPAI 113948, S11 / gemline.com Give outdoorsy folks an energy boost with the Happy Trails Healthy Gourmet Kit, an attractive gift box that contains dried fruit snacks, KIND cinnamon oats granola clusters, beef jerky and deluxe trail mix. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, S7 nccustom.com PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 27 Good Taste | Essentials


Hydration is a must, and this 22-oz. ChicTritan Infuser bottle enables recipients to add flavor with a detachable infuser for fruit slices, herbs and more. The removable, curved thermoplastic spout and accent lid comes in black or green. St Regis Group / PPAI 230188, S6 / us.stregisgrp.com Recharge your mind, body and tech tools with the Recharge Kit. The customizable Juicebox power bank comes with gourmet snacks, including a toasted coconut + vanilla bean bar by Taos Bakes, a chocolate + cacao protein bar by Atlas, a mixed nut bar by South Forty and a pour-over coffee pack by Back Porch Coffee Roasters.. HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 / hpgbrands.com Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums www.americanaccents.com | 888.287.7883 Scan for pricing! •Great for giveaways and mailers •White high-density pulpboard •Available in 35/55/80 pt thickness •Each card and coaster is perforated for easy removal •Digitally printed with 4-Color process 50 piece minimums! PULPBOARD COASTER CARDS PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 29 Good Taste | Essentials

IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 12.23 Romolo Tavani / Shutterstock.com RESPONSIBILITY BE THE CHANGE Saving the planet starts with you. Yes, you. page 34 SOLUTIONS p. 32 INNOVATION p. 38 Cast Of Thousands / Molibdenis-Studio / Shutterstock.com PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 31

Is Talk Cheap? Sales is about attacking the space nobody is in. Running toward uncomfortableness. Do you want to be remembered as a text and an email? Try mailing a letter and talking on the phone, and watch the results. ERIK MICKELSON Operations Manager Northwest Embroidery Milton, Washington PPAI 241213, D1 If you have an existing relationship, I believe texting is fine for certain situations related to an ongoing project or reaching out about an upcoming project, but I wouldn’t text for prospecting, or just catching up. Q A Distributor Asks: The Washington Post says phone call etiquette has changed: Text first and never leave a voicemail. Personally, this aligns with most of how my clients behave. Thoughts? Industry pros are quick to share expertise, insights and opinions on all things promo. Amid this batch of answered questions, distributors share how they choose supplier partners, debate the value of business calls and give advice on cold calling. Compiled by Kristina Valdez JAVIER MELENDEZ Account Executive Walker-Clay Inc. Hanson, Massachusetts PPAI 241213, D1 So, here’s where I sit: Text before calling 95% of the time and leave a voicemail 90% of the time. I do think in today’s world that it’s courteous to text someone to see if they have a few minutes before calling. That being said, I don’t think it’s discourteous to call any more than it’s discourteous for someone to see I’m calling and ignore it because they are busy or because I’m a blowhard/gasbag. I almost always leave a voicemail (unless I’ve been asked previously not to) so the recipient has an idea why I’m calling. In my experience, most people don’t like to play mystery games. As far as not leaving a voicemail or text explaining why I’m calling, I think that’s weird and obtrusive. Unless your hair is on fire, there is no need to contact me via every possible method. It’s important to be malleable for clients. When I take on a new client, I ask them directly how they prefer to communicate and do my best to accommodate. We all need to remember that these miraculous portable communication devices we carry are for our convenience and not the person trying to get in touch with us. BILL PETRIE Owner Brandivate Hendersonville, Tennessee PPAI 626207, A1 Good Studio / Shutterstock.com 32 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI Voices | Solutions

Q A Distributor Asks: I landed a promo sales job with cold calling, and I’ve never done this before. Any ideas on a script? Start at the top floor of a big building and work your way down. I made 77 calls in one day. Finding someone to compete with helps. Starting with warm prospects would be ideal. Get an appointment setter. Work hard, and good luck! LESLI HERBERT COVELL Owner Proforma - Extraordinary Promotions Richmond, Texas PPAI 533771, D1 The line I have used for years is, “Are you 100% locked in with where you buy from now, or would you be open to a quote on your next project?” MICK SPRINKLE Owner LeadDogs Clermont, Florida PPAI 620974, D1 Q A Distributor Asks: What sets one supplier apart from another? What is it that you look for, specifically, to continue orders with someone? Do not promise what you can’t deliver. Send the tracking number the same day it is created. Show your products at The PPAI Expo, plus your regional show. Use multi-line reps to show your products all over the USA. If you have made-in-USA products, tout that! LINDA MELLIN Owner American Printing & Promotions Eastvale, California PPAI 372619, D3 PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 33 Solutions | Voices

Be The Change Saving the planet starts with you. Yes, you. by Elizabeth Wimbush YOU’VE HEARD IT enough times that it ought to be sinking in, if it hasn’t already: We’re nearing a very real tipping point on climate change. Either you get it and the anxiety has started to become real, or you likely don’t trust the science on climate. But even if you don’t, you probably still want clean air and clean water and a nice world for your grandchildren to grow up in. We’re not all that different. In either case, I’ll bet you feel like there’s so much to do, and as a species – much less as an industry – we’re up against so much inertia that it’s kind of overwhelming. Where do we even start? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy – we start with you. Every cultural movement starts with a nearly imperceptible change and grows from individual contributions. So, pitter patter, let’s get atter. We’re going to break this into three components for easy digestion: 1. Be curious It’s worth spending a little time learning from trustworthy sources. Do you follow someone on LinkedIn who seems to be making eco moves that you admire? Reach out and ask them how they got started or if they have any resources they’d be willing to share. In my experience, folks involved in sustainability are pretty darn eager to share. (I mean, you should see my LinkedIn.) Another great starting point is to calculate your personal ecological footprint. There’s a handy online tool for this: FootprintCalculator. org. Knowing where you’re coming from and learning what changes can be most impactful for you is empowering. For some people, that might be making tweaks in their day-to-day diet. For others, it might be transit choices. It can be as simple as learning more about the recycling capabilities of your city or region. You might have also heard of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs (we love a good acronym, don’t we, promo?) are an impressive and far-reaching set of goals that can seem pretty daunting. But they’re Cast Of Thousands / Molibdenis-Studio / Shutterstock.com 34 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI Voices | Responsibility

vital to helping us overcome the challenges we face as a planet, and together they can provide a sustainable future for all life. NBD, right? The good news is, a fantastic group of people have worked to come up with approachable and bite-sized ways we can all contribute to them as individuals, as well as organizations. At UN.org/sustainabledevelopment, they’ve even put together The Lazy Person’s Guide To Saving The World, which includes actions you can take from your couch. 2. Be Mindful After you’ve calculated your ecological footprint and learned more about the SDGs, ask yourself where you can have the greatest impact. Focus your efforts there. No one is judging you here, and we all want you to succeed. Being mindful of your everyday decisions can add up to a whole lot of positive change. “Can my local recycling facility process this? Let me check real quick.” Or, “Is there a local option instead of this online purchase?” These are two simple examples that can have massive ripple effects to greatly influence a more sustainable world. Next, ask yourself what kind of daily decisions you make in your professional life that could have the same impact. Do you drink your morning coffee out of paper cups? In your line of work, I bet you know someone who can find you a nice tumbler. Bam – that’s one. How about repairing and reusing office furniture instead of replacing it? Double bam. Can you uplift some marginalized voices to ensure equal access to opportunities in your workplace? Take those training wheels off, you’re really doing it! At UN.org/sustainabledevelopment, they’ve even put together The Lazy Person’s Guide To Saving The World, which includes actions you can take from your couch. No Minimums • 7oz 300D Polyester • Full Color • Full Coverage • Wrinkle Resistant • Machine Washable • Free PMS Matches FREE SETUP NEW ! Stain-Resistant Fabric Fitted Stretch Table Covers PPAI/582106 SAGE/50398 Go To DiscountMarketingProducts.com to see all Table Cover styles EQP Sale thru 12/31/23 as low as $139.00(C) Valid thru 12/31/23 8ft Fitted Stretch 6ft Fitted Stretch 4ft Fitted Stretch VISIT US AT BOOTH 3467 BOOTH 553 PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 35 Responsibility | Voices

3. Be a champion There really is no winning this alone. It’s something we’re all in together. Sharing and celebrating your progress is just as important as making it. When you share the steps you’re taking, it empowers those around you to be curious and mindful as well and encourages open dialogue about how we all have ways to contribute. Start a recognition program at your place of work for anyone who positively contributes to the company’s sustainability goals – even something like helping with getting a filtered water refill station installed instead of buying cases of bottled water. If you feel good about a change you’ve made, tell others about it. Share it on Facebook or LinkedIn, and be real about the level of involvement. Even if you don’t feel like an expert, you might have a point of view that someone else hasn’t considered and finds great value in. Here’s the thing: No one is perfect, and no one has all the answers. That’s the beauty of contributing in your own unique way and at whatever level means progress for you. Your grandkids are depending on you to do at least that. In the eternal words of Kermit the Frog, it’s not easy being green. But it’s a whole lot easier when we lean in together. Elizabeth Wimbush is the director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at PPAI. If you feel good about a change you’ve made, tell others about it. Share it on Facebook or LinkedIn, and be real about the level of involvement. PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums www.americanaccents.com | 888.287.7883 Scan for pricing! •Made from 3 ply facial quality material •Biodegradable •Made from renewable resources •Metallic and neon ink colors o‚ered at no extra cost •Free PMS matching •Multiple print methods available 50 piece minimums! WHITE GUEST TOWELS 36 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI Voices | Responsibility

A Bird's-eye View AS A RECENT ADDITION to PPAI as the director of digital transformation, I am excited to be a part of innovation in the promotional products industry. Via my experiences in telecom from 2000 to 2012 with the first commercial VoIP systems and in healthcare financial technology from 2012 to 2023 with e-payments and electronic remittance advice rollouts, I have personally seen the impact that innovation can bring to an industry. A question worth considering though is, “What is innovation?” Innovation is a term that has become increasingly prominent in contemporary discourse. It is a concept that drives progress, fuels economic growth and reshapes the way we live and work. Is it merely the creation of new gadgets and technologies, or does it encompass a broader spectrum of human endeavors? Innovation can be defined as the process of introducing novel ideas, methods, products or services that bring about positive change and improve the status quo. It is not limited to technological advancements – rather, it encompasses a wide range of activities across different sectors, including business, science, healthcare, education and the arts. Forms of Innovation Technological: This is perhaps the most widely recognized form of innovation. It involves the development of new technologies, products or processes that advance human capabilities and efficiency. Examples of technological innovation range from the invention of the wheel to the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and renewable energy. Product: Product innovation involves the creation of new or improved goods and services to meet evolving customer needs and preferences. Companies frequently invest in research and development to bring innovative products to market, enhancing their competitiveness. Process: Process innovation focuses on improving how tasks are performed within an organization. By streamlining Innovation is necessary for individuals, organizations and societies to thrive, and it is vital to the promotional products marketplace. By CW Karstens Rawpixel.com / Skylines / Shutterstock.com 38 • DECEMBER 2023 • PPAI Voices | Innovation

workflows, reducing waste and increasing efficiency, process innovation can lead to cost savings and enhanced productivity. Business Model: This form of innovation involves rethinking the fundamental structure and strategy of a business. Companies like Airbnb and Uber revolutionized their respective industries by introducing innovative business models that connect consumers and providers in novel ways. Social: Social innovation addresses societal challenges by proposing new solutions and approaches. It often involves collaboration between various stakeholders, including governments, nonprofits and businesses, to tackle issues such as poverty, healthcare access and environmental sustainability. Cultural and Artistic: Innovation is not limited to the realm of science and business. In the arts and culture, innovators constantly push the boundaries of creativity, challenging traditional norms and expressing new perspectives through music, literature, visual arts and more. The Innovation Process Innovation is not a random occurrence but a deliberate and systematic process. It typically involves several stages: Idea Generation: Innovation begins with the generation of creative ideas. These ideas can emerge from brainstorming sessions, research or by recognizing unmet needs in the market or society. Research and Development: Once an idea is conceptualized, it undergoes a phase of research and development. Innovation can be defined as the process of introducing novel ideas, methods, products or services that bring about positive change and improve the status quo. PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 888.287.7883 www.americanaccents.com Scan for more info! Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums TABLE LUMINARIES • Perfect for dinner functions, receptions, & restaurants • Light up your design with any LED candle (not included) • Digitally printed with 4-Color process • Design allows for quick & glueless assembly 25 piece minimums PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 39 Innovation | Voices

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This stage involves refining the concept, testing feasibility and developing prototypes or models. Testing and Validation: Innovations are rigorously tested to ensure their effectiveness and viability. This stage often involves pilot projects, trials and experimentation to gather feedback and make improvements. Implementation: Successful innovations are implemented in the real world, whether in the form of new products, services, processes or business models. This phase requires strategic planning and execution. Scaling: To maximize the impact of an innovation, it must be scaled to reach a broader audience or market. This can involve expanding production, increasing distribution or replicating successful models in new locations. The Impact of Innovation Innovation is a driving force behind economic growth and success. Nations and industries that invest in research and development tend to lead in innovation, reaping the benefits of increased productivity and job creation. Innovative products and services also enhance the quality of life for individuals, providing solutions to pressing challenges and improving daily experiences. Innovation is not confined to a single domain but rather permeates every aspect of human endeavor. It is the engine of progress, driving society forward by continuously challenging the status quo and introducing new solutions to old problems. From technological advancements to social reforms, innovation is the catalyst for positive change, shaping the future and defining the way we live, work and interact with the world. Embracing and fostering innovation is not merely an option – it is a necessity for individuals, organizations and societies to thrive in the everevolving global landscape, and it is vital to the promotional products marketplace. In future articles, I will focus on where innovative ideas come from, how to build a culture of innovation, common pitfalls, measuring success and how to apply innovation to your business. CW Karstens is the director of digital transformation at PPAI. PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums www.americanaccents.com | 888.287.7883 Scan for pricing! •Metallic and neon ink colors available at no extra cost •Made from renewable resources •Free PMS matching •Traditional 4-Color process •Pad printed using 1-5 spot colors •2 imprint methods available: 100 piece minimums! WHITE PAPER PLATES 9” Coated Paper Plate 7” Coated Paper Plate PPAI • DECEMBER 2023 • 41 Innovation | Voices