PPAI Magazine January 2024

Must Read | Outlook 2024 Celebrating Promo’s Key Strengths In Outlook 2024, promotional products professionals have identified the most important factors cementing our medium among the most valuable forms of advertising. While some of these strengths have always been a staple of the industry, others have become more visible in the wake of the pandemic. Leaning into these strengths – and highlighting them as primary talking points with clients – will enable promo firms to remain competitive and relevant in the new year and beyond. Here are the strengths most commonly mentioned by survey respondents: 46% | Customization, Adaptability & Evolution Perhaps the promo industry’s greatest strength is its proven track record of adapting to market shifts, technological advancements and general disruption. The same is true of promo companies themselves, as well as the products they create. Many respondents on both the distributor and supplier sides point to the diversity of products offered in promo, as well as the development and enhancement of decoration methods, as an undeniable strength. Savvy promo pros have used the vast array of options to ride the wave of advancements in customization and personalization, allowing for tailored solutions to meet clients’ unique needs. “Everyone wants something custom and/or personalized right now. We can achieve that for them,” a responding supplier says. “While some product categories may stay the same year over year,” a distributor adds, “the way that you can decorate items now is much more impressive and is something you can’t receive when buying a product through retail.” As for what makes the companies themselves hearty, look no further than the industry’s collective pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic, which included work-from-home accessibility, virtual events and trade shows, supply chain alternatives, drop shipments, online stores and supplying and selling personal protective equipment. “COVID opened my eyes and changed my perspective on how an industry can survive,” a responding distributor says. “Since then, we’ve navigated government shutdowns, logistic chain blockages, supply shortages, war and recessions.” Another distributor says, “Our creativity and expertise in promo gives us the ability to be seen by our clients as a value-added partner in business. That partnership allows our clients to focus on what they’re experts in while we focus on what we’re experts in.” With its adaptability and innovation, the industry can capitalize on trends like eco-friendly products, digital marketing and AI. • The AI adoption rate among PPAI 100 distributors and suppliers is 59% and 55%, respectively, according to PPAI Research. • The majority of both groups (78% of distributors and 75% of suppliers) rely upon AI for content generation for marketing materials. Thanks to the increasing availability of recognized retail brands in the promo space, the industry is also well-positioned to benefit from the emergence of niche markets and targeted products. “Offering more and more name-brand items that can be decorated,” as another distributor says, provides additional value to end users. Customization, Adaptability & Evolution Relationships & Networking Face-to-Face Marketing Prowess 46% 15% 14% 13% 12% Key Strengths Product Longevity & Impact Knowledge & Education 62 • JANUARY 2024 • PPAI