PPAI Magazine March 2024

MEDIA.PPAI.ORG 03.24 IN THIS ISSUE p. 44 Apparel Finds At The PPAI Expo p. 20 Cultivate Creativity p. 30 Pyramid Award Winning Client Programs p. 52 Gen Z's Promo Preferences p. 68 Best Of The

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4 From PPAI Transforming Membership 9 Creative Calendar Essentials 12 Use Case Stuff We Love 16 Good Taste Sugar Rush 20 In Style Head To Toe Voices 28 Responsibility Exciting Sustainability Trends From the Expo 30 Innovation Embracing Innovation 32 Your Business A Trusted, Empowered Team Can Do Great Things Must Read 36 Promotional Products Work Health And Wellness Community 76 Buzzworthy 80 Book Club 83 PPPC Communiqué 85 Inside PPAI 87 New Members 93 Datebook 98 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 03.24 VOLUME 48, ISSUE 02 Gen Z’s Appetite For Promo PPAI Research reveals young consumers’ product preferences, core values and strong desire for personalized branded merchandise. 68 Clever Client Programs The annual PPAI Pyramid Awards honor excellence in the promotional products industry and recognize dependable suppliers, outstanding promotions, creative campaigns and exceptional craftsmanship. 52 Best of The PPAI Expo 2024 Here’s a special look back at The PPAI Expo’s 21st year in Las Vegas, a rousing success for the industry’s largest and long-running trade show. 44 44 68 52 PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 3

From PPAI Dale Denham, MAS+ President & CEO 03.24 Transforming Membership AT PPAI, WE ARE COMMITTED to enhancing the promotional marketplace for the benefit of our community of valued members. In pursuit of this mission, we are excited to announce significant improvements to our membership structure. Our focus is on simplicity and the alignment of benefits and value. A Streamlined System Our previous membership structure, with its 16 complex tiers each for distributors, suppliers and business service providers, is being updated with a more understandable and transparent approach. Recognizing that many members were not aware of the full range of benefits available to them, we are introducing a user-friendly structure with clear choices. Under the new framework, members can choose between a Standard or Professional membership. The Standard membership offers two tier options, Base and Plus, while the Professional membership provides three tier options: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Choose Your Membership Level We understand that each organization has unique needs. With our revamped structure, you have the freedom to choose the membership level that aligns perfectly with the value you seek from PPAI. You have the flexibility to select any membership tier and report your actual sales to PPAI, even if they are higher or lower than the recommended sales range for your chosen tier. However, PPAI will only publish reported revenue within or below the designated revenue range of your chosen tier, including for recognition programs such as PPAI 100. Whether you are a small business with limited PPAI engagement or a larger firm with diverse needs of your Association, our tiers are designed to support the diversity of our membership. Seamless Transition We understand change can be daunting, which is why your current membership will seamlessly transition to the new equivalent tier when it renews. At least 30 days prior to renewal, you will receive a letter outlining the benefits and pricing of your new tier and have the opportunity to select a different benefit level if you choose. Transparent Pricing We’re putting the days of complicated pricing structures behind us. This simplified pricing structure eliminates the concern of receiving a higher PPAI bill as punishment for having a great sales year. Some members may experience a change in membership dues, but you should be confident that the changes come with benefits specifically designed for your selected tier. The higher membership tiers offer enhanced benefits, ensuring that firms paying higher dues receive greater rewards. Investing In Your Success Beyond the structural changes, the real story lies in the enhanced resources we are creating on your behalf. Our focus is on delivering tangible value to our members. We are heavily investing in your success in many areas, including comprehensive training for industry newcomers. Continuing education options are also receiving additional investment. SAGE, PPAI’s technology partner, continues to provide members with the most advanced, cutting-edge technology services in the industry. We are pleased to announce that SAGE Total Access remains a core part of every PPAI membership. In addition to the product research functionality, SAGE has recently invested heavily in the CRM and project management areas of Total Access, as well as SAGE’s popular online stores and websites. As our lead partner for the PDX initiative, SAGE is also continuing to develop and promote its SAGE Connect API to further real-time data exchange within the industry, including live inventory and order status. A few other highlights: Professional level distributor members will benefit from extra SAGE Total Access user licenses, and Professional level supplier members will receive more exhibiting priority points. We are also enhancing research investments, including regular economic updates for 2024 and beyond, exclusively for our Professional members. Change For The Better It’s time. We are revolutionizing a decades-old, broken system to ensure that our pricing and benefits evolve in tandem with your needs. The goal is to add value, simplify processes and empower you to make the most out of your PPAI membership. So, how can we help you? 4 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI

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 COPYWRITER Sarah Luna SarahL@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 VICE PRESIDENT, REVENUE AND EXPOSITIONS Ellen Tucker, MAS, CAE DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY & SUSTAINABILITY Elizabeth Wimbush DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CW Karstens DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES Doris Sweely BOARD OFFICERS CHAIR OF THE BOARD Andrew Spellman, CAS Therabody IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR Kevin Walsh, CAS Showdown Displays CHAIR-ELECT OF THE BOARD Denise Taschereau Fairware VICE CHAIR, FINANCE SERVICES Chris Anderson HPG BOARD MEMBERS TERMS EXPIRING 2025 Karie Cowden, MAS Connect the Dots Promotions REGIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE DELEGATE TERM EXPIRING 2025 Kara Keister, MAS Social Good Promotions TERMS EXPIRING 2026 Chris Anderson HPG AT LARGE DIRECTOR Lori Bauer iPROMOTEu TERMS EXPIRING 2027 Dan Pantano alphabroder Danny Rosin, CAS Brand Fuel TERMS EXPIRING 2028 Zack Ottenstein The Image Group Erin Reilly Pop! Promos 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 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI

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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 APRIL 1 NATIONAL GREETING CARD DAY 18 NATIONAL PIÑATA DAY 29 INTERNATIONAL DANCE DAY MAY 5 WORLD HAND HYGIENE DAY 12 INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY 20 NATIONAL RESCUE DOG DAY JUNE 13 WORLD SOFTBALL DAY 23 NATIONAL HYDRATION DAY 27 NATIONAL SUNGLASSES DAY Exceptional Promotions BE KIND TO ANIMALS MONTH Product idea: Take your marketing to the dogs with this handy Pooch Pack of five items sure to be useful to anyone with a canine companion, all imprinted with your client’s logo: a bowl, food scoop, poop bag dispenser with keychain and house-shaped soft keychain, all shrink-wrapped in a Fido-friendly flying disc toy. Multiple colors available. CPS/Keystone Line / PPAI 111040, S9 keystoneline.com SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR ORAL HEALTH MONTH Product idea: The American Dental Association says you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day. Dental offices can help patients mark the time with this Tooth-Shaped Sand Timer, available in seven bright colors. The double-layered design means they are safe for children as well as adults and provides a highly visible place to add your client’s logo. Yorkn / PPAI 599060, S1 / yorkn.com Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Rachel Zoch AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTH Product idea: This festive Fiesta Kit includes a mini piñata, a bottle of Fiesta Blend Seasoning, pineapple chili crisps, two diestruck taco pins, two packets of mango margarita mix and a personalized 3-in-1 avocado prep tool, all packaged in a customizable gift box. HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 / hpgbrands.com/batch PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 9

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PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 03.24 IN STYLE HEAD TO TOE Apparel finds at The PPAI Expo included all kinds of wearables, from hats to shoes and everything in between. page 20 USE CASE p. 12 GOOD TASTE p. 16 fancy shutterstock / Shutterstock.com PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 11

Stuff We Love Distributors share their favorite new products from The PPAI Expo trade show floor, highlighting the products that wowed them, things they are eager to recommend to clients – and a few they’d like for themselves. Compiled by Rachel Zoch RENEE HOLMES Sales Coordinator Brand Fuel PPAI 277900, D8 Raleigh, North Carolina Holmes says her favorite new find overall is the Made Free line of sustainable bags and backpacks. “Every purchase supports a day of freedom from slavery and poverty through a self-sustaining job, and they apply a custom hang tag on every item stating how many days of freedom were provided from that purchase. I love it when we can make our dollars count, the money goes towards causes I can get behind and the impact is measurable.” She’s also pleased that the company is based in her home state of North Carolina. “Their mission is quite impressive, and their bags are, too. It was hard to narrow down exactly which single piece was my favorite, but the Urban Pack Mini AW is just the right size, is available in some great colors, and even has a fun surprise striped lining inside and leather accents, details that we find in higher-end bags. Did I mention the color? Love!” Made from durable, weather-resistant, 100% recycled polyester and the finest eco-friendly, vegetable tanned, biodegradable leather, the Urban Pack Mini AW (shown in mustard) features plenty of pockets and features, like the padded back, bottom and straps for comfort; a leather-trimmed, padded 13-inch laptop compartment; and an inside water bottle pocket. Made Free / PPAI 825553, S0 / madefree.co Essentials | Use Case 12 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI

Holmes says she wants to present something new and unique to her clients, so the custom wood-covered journals from Woodchuck USA, based in Minnesota, caught her eye. “I can’t wait to present the Spiral Journals from Woodchuck USA to clients. They can select the wood type that would coordinate best with their brand, like cedar or mahogany, and choose between lined, dotted or grid paper fill.” The journals are handcrafted in the USA from sustainable wood, and they check that environmental stewardship box many clients are looking for. “This sustainable brand will plant a tree for every product sold, falling in line with its vision to create a world more connected to nature, and you will even get the custom coordinates to where your tree lives. I love everything about this!” Every Spiral Journal is designed and handmade with care in St. Paul, Minnesota, and one tree is planted for every journal sold. Customize with a pre-designed cover or your own design on your choice of five woods (cedar shown) for the cover, with lined, dotted grid or blank paper inside. Durable steel wire binding holds it all together. Custom inserts and pages available on large quantity orders. Use Case | Essentials For herself, Holmes wants this colorful new water bottle. “Ask anyone at Brand Fuel and they will tell you that I’m the drinkware gal, so of course, I want to try out an EcoVessel The Summit water bottle in the Floral Puff colorway! The color gradient alone gave me heart eyes, and a straw is a must for me, so I’m digging the flip spout for tiltfree drinking.” EcoVessel donates 5% from all orders to environmental nonprofits, including 1% For The Planet. “It checks all the boxes,” says Holmes. Stay hydrated with one-handed, tilt-free drinking with The Summit water bottle with straw. Its ergonomic shape makes it easy to grip, and its TriMax triple insulation means drinks will stay cold up to 36 hours. Made without BPA and phthalates, and the materials are recyclable. Available in eight colorways (floral puff and coral sands shown), the 24oz. stainless steel water bottle fits in most cup holders. EcoVessel / PPAI 714780, S2 / ecovessel.com Woodchuck USA / PPAI 814983, S5 / woodchuckusa.com PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 13

Essentials | Use Case DREW DAVIS Owner & Sales Specialty Incentives PPAI 104275, D8 Denver, Colorado For himself, Davis wants this water bottle with lantern lid. The sturdy, BPA-free water Cosmic Campground 27-oz. Tritan COB Lantern Bottle features a striped lid (four colors available) with integrated LED lighting that works as both an exterior flashlight and an interior lantern. It stays lit for eight hours and comes with a micro USB cable for recharging the battery. Koozie Group / PPAI 114187, S13 kooziegroup.com He also liked the DuoSphere Wireless Speakers, a pair of portable speakers with a charging base. “These are cool and compact with good sound,” Davis says, and each speaker is brandable for double the impact. HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 hpgbrands.com/origaudio Davis and his team are looking forward to presenting these three products to clients: The IprintIt Portable Wireless Phone Printer easily connects to phone or device via Bluetooth to wirelessly print black-and-white photos, notes, labels and more. “For my clients in hospitality and events, I think this is the perfect giveaway,” Davis says. “It can also be turned into a fun group activity, like a scavenger hunt.” A roll of thermal paper and thermal sticker paper are included, and the printer is compatible with all major phone brands. Its battery provides four hours of continuous use, and a charging cable is included. PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15 / pcna.com 14 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials “I have several clients I’m excited to get this in front of, especially sports and concert venues like Red Rocks,” Davis says about this Layered Wood Ornament. Multiple layers of custom cut, all-natural birch wood are finished with a clear acrylic cover, and a pop of glitter on the inside creates a playful sparkle effect. The layers can be laser-engraved or stained to match your client’s brand or message. HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 / hpgbrands.com Davis and his team are also fans of the Topo Designs Daypack and Rover Pack (shown) 15-inch laptop backpacks. “Super on trend, love the color options and design,” he says. “Great for new hires and event confirmation kits, like President’s Club.” Both are made of durable recycled nylon and feature tons of pockets for storage, as well as an internal laptop sleeve. PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15 / pcna.com Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 15

Sugar Rush Sweet treats dominated distributors’ favorites among the edible items available at The PPAI Expo. By Rachel Zoch THE BEST PROMO makes lasting connections, and multi-sensory gifts like food help make memories that stick. Suppliers now offer a smorgasbord of edible (and drinkable) options, but this year, distributors were especially drawn to sweet treats on the show floor. Here are a few of their favorites: Madeline Hardy, senior account manager for Texas-based Whitestone Branding, says the chocolate-covered potato chips from Wisconsin-based Maple Ridge Farms “took the crown” as the best thing she tasted during The PPAI Expo. “The chocolate covered potato chips are the winner in my mind because of the great mix of sweet/salty, and because they are not your typical promotional snack giveaway,” Hardy says. “It also doesn’t hurt that the ladies at Maple Ridge are always an absolute delight to work with.” These Dark Chocolate Potato Chips are crispy, rippled potato chips covered in rich dark chocolate and sprinkled with pink Himalayan sea salt, made in the USA and packaged in a sustainable wooden box. Price includes your custom imprint on the lid as a firebrand or in one of four colors. Certified kosher and drop shipping available. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8 mapleridge.com 16 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste sanjagrujic / Shutterstock.com

Drew Davis, owner of Denver-based Specialty Incentives, loves the wide selection of flavors and shapes in gummy candies available through HPG’s SugarSpot brand. The line includes classics like Swedish fish and gummy bears, as well as fun fruits like green apple, pineapple and pink grapefruit, plus unusual flavors like prosecco and unique animal shapes like pink flamingos and butterflies – all of which can be gifted individually or in kits, or combined with a themed promotion for added sweetness. The assortment of flavors in this Fruit Cocktail Sweetie Box is reminiscent of a fresh fruit salad, with 1.3-oz. taster packets of strawberry, watermelon, peach and cherry gummies, all packaged in a petite, sleek box. (Also available in a brandable drawstring satchel bag.) HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 hpgbrands.com/sugarspot Renee Holmes, sales coordinator with North Carolina-based Brand Fuel, says she couldn’t stop thinking about this “TO. DIE. FOR.” Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake. Made with farm-fresh eggs, pure bourbon vanilla, sour cream and crunchy walnuts, plus a cinnamon streusel added to the center and the top of the cake, the decadent cake weighs almost two pounds and serves 10-14. It comes in a silver gift box tied with a white satin ribbon foil-stamped with your imprint in one of seven colors. “As I made my way through the booth sampling all the goodies they had to offer, this cake stole the show. Literally, the whole show,” Holmes says. “I thought about it the rest of the day and had to practice some restraint to not go back for another slice!” Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8 mapleridge.com PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 17 Good Taste | Essentials

Walter Kurt, president of Three K Consultants in Houston, was especially taken with the samples at the Dirty Cookie booth. “The Nutella one is amazing,” he says. “I actually don’t think there is one flavor that’s not delicious!” Timeless flavor meets gooey texture in this Chocolate Chip with Nutella Stuffed Cookie. The sweet and salty edge of the chocolate chip cookies, stuffed with the rich Nutella spread, is the perfect staple for a sweet and simple dessert. Order by half dozen or dozen and get creative with digital decoration on products and packaging. All products are certified kosher. Dirty Cookie / PPAI 814973, S1 / thedirtycookieoc.com Shyloh Rhodes, brand development and recognition specialist at California-based Arnolds for Awards, found plenty of inspiration with Fairytale Brownies. “She had so many good ideas, like 17 different ways that I can sell her brownies,” Rhodes says. Choose from a variety of colorful gift boxes like this Custom Celebration Box to fill with six to 48 individually wrapped treats. Handcrafted in small batches, these certified kosher brownies, blondies and cookies are available in 12 flavors (plus seasonal and sugar-free options) and three sizes: full, sprite (half) and bite-size. Free logo message cards are included on custom orders with no setup fee, and worldwide shipping, drop ship and fulfillment programs are offered. Fairytale Brownies / PPAI 317978, S5 / browniepromos.com Zoch is associate editor of PPAI Media. John Corrigan and Jonny Auping contributed to this report. 18 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

Where Visibility Meets Innovation 32 Can Cooler/Seat Outdoor Advertising Reinvented 18 Can Cooler/Seat 18 & 32 Can stacked on our all-terrain Trolley Scan for Client Friendly Digital Catalog/Videos Our unique, compact, round design allows for greater ice retension, enhanced durability, more portability and easier carrying than traditional coolers. Constructed with high quality materials they are built to last over a decade so your clients’ promotion dollars keep working year after year. • Rugged 600 Denier stain resistant shell • Iced storage with durable no-leak liner • Superior insulation and ice retention • Refrigerated pocket for sandwiches • Easy carry padded shoulder strap • Insulated electronics & dry pocket • Lid doubles as a tray table • Padded comfortable seat • Two elastic mesh pockets • Rugged non-slip bottom sales@thecoolestcoolers.com 619.341.3779 PPAI #766113

Head To Toe Apparel finds at The PPAI Expo included all kinds of wearables, from hats to shoes and everything in between. By Rachel Zoch CHECKING OUT THE LATEST and greatest is a priority for distributors attending The PPAI Expo. Promo apparel, whether for employee uniforms or branded merchandise, remains one of the biggest sellers in the industry, with multiple garment types making SAGE’s top 10 product categories every month. Let’s take a look at a few of the apparel products that caught distributors’ attention on the trade show floor this year. Trucker hats keep on – well, truckin’ – and the new FLX672M-E OCflx Eco, a more eco-friendly version of the classic silhouette, is made with 40% recycled front panels, 100% recycled mesh back panels and a 100% recycled visor, plus its slightly pre-curved visor and adjustable sweatband make for an excellent fit. Outdoor Cap / PPAI 13485, S10 outdoorcap.com Several newer business casual options for women from Edwards Garment caught the eye of Jodi Frank, CEO of Delaware-based Frank Communication Solutions. “They’re offering things that will hopefully fill the void that we see from Tri-Mountain not being in our industry anymore,” Frank says. This new Soft Pleated Blouse, made of jersey knit fabric, features a stylish pull-on silhouette, and the pleated front adds extra ease and fluidity that also makes it a great maternity option. Available in black or white (shown) and sizes XS-3X. Edwards Garment / PPAI 198530, S11 / edwardsgarment.com fancy shutterstock / Shutterstock.com 20 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

Renee Holmes, sales coordinator at North Carolina-based Brand Fuel, says the moment she saw this Marine Layer Corbet Quilted Crewneck, she knew she had to have one for herself. “This quilted fabric is crazy soft, and the crewneck can be dressed up or down,” Holmes says. “The women’s version has puffy sleeve detail we don’t usually see in promo, but if puffy sleeves aren’t your thing, just switch to the men’s version, which has a more classic cut. Both are amazing and would look great with a subtle tone-on-tone embroidery and would be a great corporate gift.” Men’s cut available in dark oat heather or navy heather (shown) and sizes S-2X. Women’s in oat heather only and sizes XS-XL. Marine Layer / PPAI 690355, S1 / marinelayer.com Drew Davis, owner of Denver-based Specialty Incentives, liked the retail appeal of the Men’s Greatness Wins Core Tech Quarter Zip (sizes S-3X) and Women’s Greatness Wins Core Tech Full Zip (XS-2X). “This item is very soft and comfortable” Davis says. “It’s inspired by of Vuori apparel and similar to Lululemon.” Made from plastic bottles, the ultrasoft fabric combines double-brush hand feel with durability, and it is certified by the Global Recycled Standard. It’s also moisture-wicking, quick to dry and breathable, and it offers UPF 40 sun protection and stretch for maximum range of motion. Both cuts come in superior blue heather, ash gray heather (both shown) or black. PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15 / pcna.com PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 21 In Style | Essentials

secrid.com Original pocketwear since 1995 Kleerwest & Secrid WARRANTY & REPAIR In case of any quality issues, we provide fantastic service no matter where the wallet was bought. 100% MADE IN HOLLAND Our products are produced in Holland, assembled in local sheltered workshops and C02 compensated. PERSONALIZED GIFTING Add your own design to the aluminium Cardprotector of any wallet. Our large collection ensures we have a wallet style for everyone. GIVE A PERSONALIZED GIFT THAT LASTS A high quality design wallet featuring our iconic patented mechanism, providing a simple and fast way to access your cards with one movement. Protecting your cards against bending, breaking and unwanted wireless communication (RFID safe). Made in Holland, assembled in local sheltered workshops and C0 compensated. A gift for every occasion which you bring to every occasion - designed to last. Contact our partner KLEERWEST, for a range of our Secrid wallets and options. (510) 558-8525 | sales@kleerwest.com | kleerwest.com MAKE A LASTING IMPRESSION BY GIFTING A SECRID WALLET TO YOUR COLLEAGUES, CLIENTS AND RELATIONS. The original Cardprotector was launched in 2009 and awarded with a Red Dot Design Award. On register.secrid.com Secrid wallets can be registered for a 3rd year of warranty and a certificate of authenticity.

Katie Whitehead, director of marketing for Illinois-based HALO, the No. 2 distributor in the inaugural PPAI 100, says the MV Sport Women’s Striped Sleeves Full-Zip Hooded Sweatshirt stood out as trendy and versatile. “It was great seeing [the S&S Activewear] team wear this item in their booth for additional exposure and to showcase how well this works for team events.” The cotton/poly fleece sweatshirt features a classic fit, lined hood with matching drawcord, covered fulllength zipper, split-pouch pockets and colorful jersey stripes sewn on the sleeves. It comes in charcoal (shown) or ivory and sizes S-2X. S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12 ssactivewear.com Shyloh Rhodes, brand development and recognition specialist at California-based Arnolds for Awards, was enamored with a bathrobe from Kashwere. “It was more waterproof than anything and perfect for the hospitality industry,” Rhodes says. The Kapua Cotton Velour robe features a super-absorbent interior and deluxe soft exterior with a shawl collar, tie belt and spacious front pockets. Made of a blend of cotton and velour, these plush white robes are machine washable and come in unisex sizes XS-XXL. Matching slippers available also. Kashwere / PPAI 642505, S6 / kashwere.com Walter Kurt, president of Houston-based Three K Consultants, found the customizable insoles from AIRfeet.com to be a useful and memorable product. “They are supposed to be the best of the best insoles, plus the added bonus of branding them,” he says. Add your client’s logo to one of six AIRfeet Insoles designed for different kinds of shoes and wearers. Designed to fit any footwear without removing the existing footbed, these super-thin, lightweight insoles massage the foot to provide all-day comfort. Easy care machine washable and covered by a six-month warranty. AIRfeet - Life Changing Insoles / PPAI 719794, S1 / myairfeet.com PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 23 In Style | Essentials

Customers want more sustainable goods, and these classic District Re-Fleece Joggers are made with a cotton/poly blend of 100% recycled fibers, including the undyed drawcord. Features include sideseam pockets and ankle cuffs for a polished fit. Available in black or charcoal heather (shown) and unisex sizes XS-4X. SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16 / sanmar.com Whitehead also loves the custom footwear from SOCK101, in particular the Midtown Sneakers. “The current trend encompasses this shoe style, which exhibits versatility both in formal and casual settings,” she says. “I love the customization capabilities, which undoubtedly distinguish your company.” Go from basic white to all-over branding with 10 customizable panels printed with your design – and the company offers free virtual designs within 24 hours. The shoe is made of a microfiber leather upper and a mesh lining, and the sole is made with high-quality thermoplastic rubber so it’s lightweight and has more elasticity. Minimum order of one pair. SOCK101 / PPAI 625402, S6 / sock101.com Zoch is associate editor of PPAI Media. John Corrigan contributed to this report. Before After PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 25 In Style | Essentials

IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 03.24 Romolo Tavani / Shutterstock.com INNOVATION EMBRACING INNOVATION page 30 Ignite the power within your workforce by cultivating creativity and adaptability among employees. HAKINMHAN / Shutterstock.com RESPONSIBILITY p. 28 YOUR BUSINESS p. 32 PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 27

AM_art / Shutterstock.com Voices | Responsibility Most Exciting Sustainability Trends From The PPAI Expo 2024 7 As director of sustainability and responsibility, I saw a lot of ESG progress at the largest and longestrunning trade show in the promotional products industry. By Elizabeth Wimbush THE PPAI EXPO 2024 was a resounding success. With my focus on sustainability, I had a unique lens with which to view our annual event, the largest gathering of industry professionals to collaborate and learn. This year, you couldn’t walk more than a few steps on the show floor or through the education panel halls without seeing a word that ties into sustainability – eco, environmental, corporate social responsibility, ESG, transparency, renewable, regenerative, circular, etc. We’ve highlighted some of the top product takeaways from the show, and now I’d like to share with you how The PPAI Expo 2024 emphasized the industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Here are the seven most captivating sustainability trends that stole the spotlight at the event. The 28 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI

Responsibility | Voices 1. Energized Momentum Toward Sustainable Growth I was blown away by the level of optimism surrounding how our industry is moving in the right direction to grow in a sustainable manner. There have always been several champions leading the charge, but this year, it felt like a huge increase in folks eager to collaborate on how to explore opportunities, embrace rather than endure, and not just mitigate risks. 2. Measurable Impact Reporting There was a noticeable uptick in both conversations about and supplier focus on measurable impact reporting. Sustainability claims are increasingly being backed by robust metrics and data, marking a significant shift toward accountability. Is a product made from recycled content? Great! What percent and where did that recycled material come from? Did the collection of marine plastic waste generate jobs and help uplift a community? 3. Transparency, Transparency, Transparency Transparency was another hot topic, especially with suppliers like Rupt offering fully transparent product breakdowns. There was an increased focus on visibility throughout supply chains to prioritize responsible sourcing. I also had many conversations with attendees on the transparency of the initiatives MGM and Mandalay Bay run to ensure events like The PPAI Expo generate minimal waste. 4. Technological Innovations More suppliers are collaborating with technology firms to enhance trust in sustainability claims, leveraging blockchain technology to vet material traceability and supply chain transparency. Meanwhile, companies like To The Market are providing a software platform to enable responsible vendor compliance and automated impact reporting. Cutting-edge digital processes and AI will be an important part of promo’s path to becoming a more sustainable industry. 5. Sustainable Booths Sustainable booth design was something I saw catching on this year. From Numo Manufacturing’s minimal “This is a booth with our stuff in it” design to the fully reusable and cardboard booth setup from Raining Rose, these eco-friendly displays not only reflect a dedication to sustainability at a show level but also signal a holistic integration of green practices throughout their operations. 6. Community Impact Initiatives The PPAI Expo 2024 showcased a growing emphasis on community and social impact products and companies, with initiatives like PromoCares’ “For Good” campaigns gaining more traction and visibility, while companies like Gulu Gear showed that promo products can have wide-ranging positive impacts in the communities they are sourced from. 7. B Corporations On The Rise I also noticed an uptick in companies on the show floor that were certified B Corps, underscoring a shift toward a more inclusive and sustainable business model that’s gaining a foothold in our industry. B Corps, with their focus on social and environmental performance, are driving positive change and setting new benchmarks for corporate responsibility. The PPAI Expo 2024 showed me that the sustainability movement in promotional products is well underway, revealing trends that will continue to help shape the industry. I’m already fired up about how we’ll see this continue to grow and evolve over the course of this year, and how sustainability will manifest at The PPAI Expo 2025! Wimbush is PPAI's director of sustainability and responsibility. The PPAI Expo 2024 emphasized the industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 29

HAKINMHAN / Shutterstock.com Embracing Innovation Ignite the power within your workforce by cultivating creativity and adaptability among employees. By CW Karstens IN THE DYNAMIC LANDSCAPE of today’s business world, innovation stands as the cornerstone of success and sustainability. As organizations strive to stay ahead of the curve, the need for constant adaptation and creativity becomes increasingly paramount. However, convincing employees to embrace innovation can be a challenging task. It requires a cultural shift and a willingness to embrace change. In this column, I will explore the importance of innovation in the workplace and outline strategies to cultivate a mindset that fosters creativity and adaptability among employees. Elevate Innovation First and foremost, it is crucial to underscore the direct link between innovation and organizational success. In an era where technological advancements and market dynamics evolve rapidly, businesses that fail to innovate risk falling behind. By embracing innovation, employees contribute to your organization’s competitiveness and relevance in the market. The ability to adapt and innovate is not just a desirable trait; it is a survival imperative. Employees need to understand that innovation is not merely a buzzword but a fundamental aspect of securing the future of the organization and, consequently, their own professional growth. Innovation = Company Culture To encourage innovation, organizations must establish a culture that promotes experimentation and learning from failure. Employees often resist change due to fear of the unknown or concern about potential negative consequences. By fostering a culture that celebrates risk-taking and learning from mistakes, organizations can create an environment where employees feel supported in their innovative endeavors. This can be achieved through initiatives such as innovation workshops, hackathons or designated time for 30 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI Voices | Innovation

employees to work on personal projects that align with the company’s goals. Countless times, I have joined a team or organization and quickly realized that a culture of keeping your head down and just doing what you were told was prevalent. It’s important that when a mistake is made, leaders ask how can we solve it and then prevent it, not ask who made the mistake and punish them or call them out. Subtle ways in how you respond can make impactful behavioral changes in an organization, for better or worse. Share The News Effective communication is pivotal in garnering employee buy-in for innovation. Leaders must articulate a compelling vision that illustrates how innovation aligns with the organization’s values and long-term objectives. When employees understand the purpose behind innovation efforts, they are more likely to feel a sense of purpose and connection to the larger mission. Regular communication that is both transparent and inclusive builds trust and keeps employees informed about the progress and impact of innovation initiatives. This ensures that employees feel valued and recognize their contribution to the organization’s success. When implementing a new process or tool, showing the benefits and getting buy-in goes a long way in faster and more successful adoption. Forcing a change causes resentment and frustration. Develop The Right Skills Organizations should invest in training programs that equip employees with the skills necessary for innovative thinking. Innovation is not limited to a select few; it is a collective effort that thrives when individuals from various backgrounds and skill sets collaborate. Training programs can include workshops on creative problem-solving, design thinking and other methodologies that stimulate innovation. These programs empower employees to approach challenges with a fresh perspective, sparking creative solutions that may not have been apparent before. For implementing innovative changes, ensuring that training is engaging and fits within busy schedules helps. Being able to confirm that training was completed and skills were developed also improves success. Too often, training and documentation is poorly implemented and people then struggle to fully grasp the new tool or process, making their stress higher rather than lower. Celebrate Progress Recognizing and rewarding innovative efforts is another powerful strategy to encourage employees to embrace innovation. When employees see that their contributions are valued and acknowledged, they are motivated to continue seeking innovative solutions. Recognition can take various forms, such as monetary rewards, public acknowledgment or opportunities for career advancement. By creating a culture of appreciation for innovation, organizations reinforce the idea that creativity is not just welcomed but essential to individual and collective success. Convincing employees to embrace innovation requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the cultural, communication and skill development aspects of the workplace. Through the steps outlined here, your organization can create an environment where employees not only accept change but actively contribute to the innovative endeavors that propel the organization forward. In doing so, businesses can position themselves as leaders in their respective industries and cultivate a workforce that thrives on the challenges and opportunities presented by an ever-evolving business landscape. Karstens is PPAI’s director of digital transformation. To encourage innovation, organizations must establish a culture that promotes experimentation and learning from failure. PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 31 Innovation | Voices

The PPAI Expo 2024: A Trusted, Empowered Team Can Do Great Things EACH YEAR, in the weeks that follow The PPAI Expo, I reflect upon what I have learned. While I always gain countless takeaways about the industry, there are also many things that I learn about myself, about teamwork and about leadership. This year, many of these reflections continue to circle back to the power of empowerment. In my opinion, it’s one of the many things that made this year’s show “The Greatest Show.” While empowering others is not new to me or to PPAI, the empowerment of PPAI employees this year, specifically from a show perspective, was, for lack of better words, elevated and different. As a leader, relinquishing control – a must when empowering someone else – can be an intricate and challenging process, and one that can be even more difficult when the results those individuals are responsible for are public, like The PPAI Expo. But to truly empower an employee, you need to trust them with responsibilities, be willing to grant them autonomy and foster an environment where they feel safe to make decisions and learn from their experiences. This year, we entered the show with more people in the right seats than ever before, but that happened to also mean that we had less year-over-year same-role experience than at any other time in my 10-year tenure at PPAI. As a leader in this type of situation, you have to make a call on how much control Empowering your employees means providing them the tools and training to succeed, then trusting them enough to relinquish control over the details. By Ellen Tucker, CAE, MAS 32 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI Voices | Your Business

you are willing to relinquish. The more you relinquish, the more empowered your team will feel, but the more at-risk you will feel. The more trust you have in the person, though, the more you are likely to relinquish control. Dale Denham and I had, and have, immense trust in our team. This trust is what allowed us to empower these individuals, to give them the room to excel and to provide the industry with “The Greatest Show.” As I go through the process of reflection, I want to share a few key items that stand out to me about empowering employees: • Trust is essential to the foundation of empowerment. In fact, I would say that empowerment without trust is not true empowerment, and the positive results that come from empowerment will not be the same without it. • Providing support and resources is important in helping an empowered employee build confidence and in ensuring that they are equipped to make effective decisions. • Accountability is key in building on empowerment. While it is important to trust your team to make the right decisions, it is equally important to hold them accountable for the outcomes. • Empowered employees feel more comfortable in expressing their ideas and taking initiative, resulting in increased innovation and creativity. • There is a transformative effect that occurs when people see their colleagues empowered, and it fosters a positive culture in which people feel valued and motivated to excel. As I continue to grow, not just as a leader but as a human, I’m reminded that we don’t just lead at work – we also have the opportunity to impact our peers in the industry and people in our personal lives. This also means that we have the opportunity to find ways to empower people outside of work. After all, it’s about giving others the opportunity to grow, to contribute and to thrive. Tucker is PPAI’s vice president of revenue and expositions. Empowered employees feel more comfortable in expressing their ideas and taking initiative, resulting in increased innovation and creativity. Below EQP 10’ x 10’ Steel Tent Sale PPAI/582106 SAGE/50398 UV & Fire Rated 600 Denier Polyester FREE Wheeled Carry Bag FREE PMS Matches Full Color Imprint FREE SETUP TCT02100 - Black Steel TCT02101 - White Steel $606 (C) No minimum Valid thru 4/30/24 PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 33 Your Business | Voices

STORIES TO KEEP AND USE Must Read 03.24 Wow Design Studio / Shutterstock.com page 52 PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS WORK p. 36 BEST OF THE PPAI EXPO 2024 p. 44 CLEVER CLIENT PROGRAMS The annual PPAI Pyramid Awards honor excellence in the promotional products industry and recognize dependable suppliers, outstanding promotions, creative campaigns and exceptional craftsmanship. PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 35

Rostislav_Sedlacek / objectsforall / Shutterstock.com Must Read | Brand Visibility You Can Bank On THE U.S. IS HOME TO more than 4,000 banks, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – more than anywhere else in the world. With so many banks, from the local neighborhood branch to banks without any physical presence at all, consumers have a rich array of choices. What makes people choose one bank over another? Robust account features and convenient access matter, but people also want to know they’re more than just another account. Research from BankBound shows that 47% of people select local banks over bigger national banks for more personalized service, and 59% prefer local banks due to better customer service overall. Many small business owners also prefer small banks, citing an 81% satisfaction score with community banks compared to 68% for large banks. Promo is invaluable when it comes to driving brand awareness at banks and financial institutions. By Audrey Sellers 36 • MARCH 2024 • PPAI

Rostislav_Sedlacek / objectsforall / Shutterstock.com What Do People Look For In A Bank? When choosing a bank, consumers look for: Customer service/friendliness Convenience Fewer fees or no fees Brick-and-mortar location ATM network Interest rates Brand reputation When it comes to online-only banks, there’s a trust problem. More than half of Americans say they have low trust in online banks compared to traditional banking institutions. To build trust and bring in new customers, banks should focus on authentic marketing. For example, financial institutions could engage in real conversations on social media and build further engagement with promo. Address Financial Uncertainties More than half of Americans (58%) felt confident about their financial position at the start of 2024. They have 10-15% more in their bank accounts now than in 2019, according to a JPMorgan Chase Institute analysis of the accounts of nearly 9 million Chase customers. However, some don’t feel so optimistic. A nationwide survey by insights and marketing company Sales Fuel found that 35% of respondents believe they’ll never make or save enough money to accomplish their goals. Banks and financial institutions can address these concerns through offerings like workshops at bank branches or tips and tutorials on banking apps. Another idea? Incentivize consistent saving with reward programs and celebrate savings milestones with promo giveaways. Bigger, national financial institutions offer their own set of perks, too, from a recognizable name to a long history. For many consumers, this amounts to safety and trust. Almost half of respondents in a Forbes Advisor survey said they would be willing to pay higher fees for accounts at more established banks. These banks might also offer relationship bonuses, like waived account fees or discounted loan rates. Promos can be another perk, with different branded items given to customers with various account types. Whether people are banking with small or large banks, most are happy with the services they receive. A poll from the American Bankers Association reveals that 84% of Americans are happy with their bank, and 94% say their bank provides “excellent,” “very good” or “good” customer service. However, just because bank customers are happy doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily stick around. Data from research firm Morning Consult shows that 8%-10% of customers open and close accounts every month. Promotional products can help banks delight their current customers while attracting new ones. When all else is equal – like lower lending rates or access to mobile apps – consumers tend to bank with brands they know over ones they don’t. In fact, there’s a 21% greater chance that a better brand will sway a consumer’s decision when choosing a bank, according to research from IBM. From brick-and-mortar banks to onlineonly banks, financial institutions of all kinds can capitalize on the power of promo to build visibility and fortify relationships. 54% 42% 51% 51% 32% 32% 28% | Must Read PPAI • MARCH 2024 • 37