As things currently stand, unemployment is at a 50-year low and inflation rates are at nearly 40-year highs. Many are predicting an incoming recession. All of this is to say that we’re living through an uncertain economic time, when consumer habits, corporate profitability, and the value of the dollar are hard to predict in the near future.

Understandably, companies are reacting in different ways, many of them looking to find avenues to save money. The Wall Street Journal reported a story recently suggesting that many CEOs were cutting down on perks given to their employees, including promotional products. (Last week, PPAI published an industry reaction to the WSJ report.)

Look no further than the initial stages of the pandemic, when nearly every industry seemed to be struggling to just survive. Yet promotional products adjusted with the circumstances and helped businesses keep their brands in front of consumers. How companies react to financial uncertainties will vary and can often be beyond the industry’s control, but the point remains obvious for many promo pros: Promotional products are an asset to be utilized, even through economically uncertain times.

“It’s always important to take an intentional approach to the dollars spent on branded merchandise,” says Lisa DeJong, executive VP of sales at Michigan-based distributor Competitive Edge. “Firms that partner with veteran promotional product consultants who provide strategic solutions, driven by measurable outcomes will find both ROI and brand loyalty during times of recession.”

As the industry prepares itself to remind companies they are much more than an expense that could be eliminated, this is a moment PPAI is well-prepared to meet through Promotional Products Work (PPW) Expo, which makes its debut to the full industry and distributor-hosted clients on Sept. 29.

The Goal Of PPW Expo

The aim of the free virtual event is to inspire hosted buyers and help them understand the value, power and creative potential of promotional products. PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham says the event intends to reach those who haven’t already seen what promotional products can do.

“Everyone in the promotional products industry knows how effective promotional products are, yet many business leaders outside the industry do not truly know the value,” Denham says. “That is why Promotional Products Work, including the Promotional Products Work Expo, was created to help elevate promo so businesses see how effective promo can be in both brand awareness and loyalty of employees.”

“In good and bad times, promo is an asset for businesses when used effectively and Promotional Products Work Expo is a core component of elevating promo.”

How Will It Work?

PPW Expo will include six educational sessions, exploring industry trends like sustainability, packaging, retail brands and more.

There will also be three product-focused pavilions featuring the ability for buyers to “like” products, as well as detailed reports available afterwards about “viewed” and “liked” products with streamlined channels to put the correct distributors in touch with interested buyers. Supplier personnel will not attend the event, meaning all direct contact will be between distributors and the clients they invite.

“When your customer calls the following week and says, ‘I saw this tote bag; it was blue and had a white imprint. I need it for my next event,’ you can check their product views and get them a virtual or physical sample right away,” says Promotional Products Work manager Lyndsey Davis. “Suppliers will receive all of this data—the exception of buyer information—for each of their showcased products as well.”

Uncertain financial times lead companies to do more than just search for what they can eliminate to save money. Those same circumstances will lead them to look for strategies that will help them continue to thrive. For many of those companies, promotional products represent one of the answers they’re looking for. PPW Expo hopes to help buyers see that.