The PPAI Expo 2023 is officially underway here in Las Vegas, and just like the promotional products industry at large, it has emerged from the pandemic stronger than ever.

Kickstarting the event on Monday morning, PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham, MAS+, announced a preliminary 2022 industry sales volume estimate to a packed crowd of PPAI Expo attendees inside Mandalay Convention Center.

The annual survey, collected by third-party research firm Relevant Insights on behalf of PPAI, is ongoing, but the current estimate – more than $25 billion – is an increase of at least 13.1% over 2021.

“Last year was a pretty spectacular year for our industry given the challenges of the previous years,” says PPAI Board Chair Dawn Olds, MAS+. “We saw sales continue their upward trend, overcoming the downturn of 2020. And as events, which drove a significant amount of industry sales, continue to stay strong, 2023 is looking great as well.”

Denham added, “I am proud of what our industry contributes to the marketing mix, and I am really excited for our future. This is going to be a great year.”

Despite the economic and public health challenges of the past three years, overall business is good – and PPAI is committed to helping members reach new heights in 2023.

It’s fitting that the 20th anniversary of The PPAI Expo’s move to Las Vegas – a big gamble turned to gold back in 2003 – takes place at a transformative time for PPAI and the promotional products industry.

Denham made that connection during his opening remarks Monday just before the start of The PPAI Expo Conference.

“With the support of the Board, we have the confidence to evolve,” Denham said.

That evolution is ongoing. With its mission to be the voice and force to advance the promotional marketplace, PPAI enters the new year with new ideas and initiatives that will help elevate promo for all Association members.

Some announcements and highlights from Denham’s opening comments in Las Vegas:

Promotional Products Work

The first-ever Promotional Products Work (PPW) Expo, held virtually last September, drew terrific reviews as nearly 40 suppliers showcased more than 200 products to clients invited by their distributor partners. A bonus virtual PPW Expo was held last November, and two more are scheduled for 2023: one on March 28 and another this September.

The one-day, invite-only event is designed to help members inspire end buyers with a unique presentation of top industry products and provide education on the best ways to leverage promo.

“Promotional Products Work” isn’t just the name of the exciting new online event. It has become the official tagline for PPAI, embracing the Association’s vision statement that promotional products are universally valued and essential to every brand.

News & Research

In addition to its rebrand, PPAI is delivering more timely and informative news than ever through its redesigned Newslink newsletter and recently-renamed PPAI Magazine.

PPAI is also bolstering its research efforts to churn out data relevant to industry companies, and is to be a source of content relevant to buyers.

Denham encouraged distributors who haven’t done so yet to participate in the Sales Volume Estimate survey, which closes at the end of January. The final industry size estimate could change after the survey window closes, although Monday’s preliminary announcement has been described by industry sources as in line with expectations.

DEI, CSR & Sustainability

All three areas are top of mind for PPAI and the industry. Monday’s PPAI Expo Conference features multiple breakout sessions on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as well as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Keynote speaker Dr. James Pogue, Ph.D., is providing his expertise on how businesses eliminate bias and create organizational success.

Denham also recognized Brittany Price, MGM’s director of sustainable operations, for helping PPAI host a sustainable event for thousands of attendees. And PPAI’s new logo, introducing green with its existing purple, signifies its commitment to a sustainable future.

Digital Transformation

An ongoing goal for PPAI and all members is to establish consistently efficient order and inventory status communication between suppliers and distributors. PPAI’s Promo Data Exchange (PDX) initiative, free and available to all PPAI members, can help streamline those processes as a free feature through SAGE, Denham said.

Nick DiNicola, PPAI’s new digital transformation manager, leads a breakout session Monday discussing PDX and the ongoing goal of digital transformation in the industry.