The 33rd Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair concluded last week at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Held in conjunction with the 13th Hong Kong International Printing & Packaging Fair at AsiaWorld-Expo, the two shows drew more than 64,000 buyers from 145 countries and regions, a 3.5 percent year-on-year increase. PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, along with PPAI Board Chair Dale Denham, MAS+, and Immediate Past Chair Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS+, were also in Hong Kong last week to speak at the show, meet with industry groups and visit companies in the area.

Bellantone and Denham presented an education session at the fair on the state of the U.S. marketplace and business opportunities. They also highlighted the importance of Asian manufacturers working through the established supplier and distributor channel in the U.S. market—particularly the compliance, safety, value, creative and warehousing benefits it brings—and U.S. industry professionals’ understanding of the market and its trends.

“Speaking at the show was a unique experience with a diverse set of attendees interested in the U.S. market,” says Denham. “We laid out what a great opportunity the U.S. market is, but we stressed the value of our supply chain. I spoke about why distributors, and specifically Geiger, rely on our supplier partners rather than circumventing them. We stressed that safety and compliance is becoming a larger issue, and we explained why buyers rely on distributors and how important the distributor is to the buyer. I think everyone in attendance saw the value in the details we shared and now has a better appreciation for the importance of our supply chain.”

Tomasini says, “The fair was a fabulous opportunity to meet with PPAI members and leaders in the promotional products profession from across the world. Our conversations with our international colleagues explored the importance of our supply chain and the value that committed suppliers bring to our distributors with product safety, social responsibility, etc. We also discussed the value of the distributor and the relationships and access the distributor sales force has with end-users and customers, and the value this brings suppliers versus trying to find customers on their own in the U.S. market.”

While in Hong Kong, Bellantone, Denham and Tomasini attended a meeting of the World Advertising Gift Exchange (WAGE) to share the Association’s perspectives on the state of the promotional products industry. WAGE is a global network comprised of 20 international promotional products companies. Jo-an Lantz, MAS (pictured above), executive vice president at Geiger and a past PPAI board chair, is president of the group. The PPAI leaders also joined a meeting of the Switzerland-based International Partnership for Premiums & Gifts (IPPAG), a consortium of companies specializing in promotional products.

“What struck me during this trip is that the world is watching us,” says Tomasini. “We are the trusted leader and they truly look to us for our leadership and vision. I heard many times that other countries look to the U.S. for trends that will follow in their countries in the next two to three years.”

Denham adds, “Attending WAGE and IPPAG meetings are extremely beneficial. We get the opportunity to hear detailed information about different markets that may help influence future directions for the U.S. market. At the same time, IPPAG and WAGE members are always keen to hear from PPAI about what is happening in the U.S. market. Several of the executives I spoke to at these meetings told me how important it is for them to hear from PPAI and how insightful it is. This helps put the “I” in PPAI, as we share our knowledge beyond North America for the good of everyone.”