What I Found at My Vegas Expo

  • Jan 15, 2022

I spent the good part of last week in Las Vegas at the annual PPAI Expo. PPAI being Promotional Products Association International. Hundreds of suppliers and thousands of distributors like me and hundreds of thousands of products to see. It definitely takes you all of nearly three days to walk the floor and see everything you want to see. Even then, you won't see everything. That is why you have to decide what you are really looking for. You really don't have to see everything. Much of the drinkware is similar from supplier to supplier. Many of the gadgets are similar also. You have to have a strategy if you really want to maximize your time and come away with tangibles that will help you help your clients in the upcoming year. 

My strategy was to focus on a few things. 

  1. What seems to be trending
  2. What do I want to focus on in the coming year?
  3. What items would my current and target market like?
  4. What can I show my clients that will help take their brand to the next level?

Here are the types of products I really wanted to check out.

  • Eco drinkware- By nature, most drinkware that is reusable is good for the environment, but there are other factors such as the type of company they are.
  • Custom packaging and kitting- Many businesses only think of the product when they think of a branded item to be used in a marketing campaign. You need to think of the entire process from the product to delivery. With packaging, you have a huge amount of branding real estate just waiting to be created. With full-color printing, the possibilities are endless. You can go all out with an elaborate design, or you go simplistic and classy. Imagine what the recipient will think when they receive that custom package and open it. Have you ever seen how a Louis Vuitton purse or wallet is packaged? It wreaks high-end luxury. The packaging itself is a work of art. Imagine what that type of delivery would do for your brand.
  • Tech items- Tech is very popular with regards to employee and customer appreciation gifts. From Bluetooth speakers to earbuds, to personal massagers and more. The branding opportunities are amazing with full-color printing and amazing packaging. 
  • Higher-end and innovative apparel options- I wanted to find some items that would really allow for some customization and quality branding as well as environmentally friendly. Items that clients could use to increase the value of their brand and also pass along a story. I was able to find some of those items.
  • I wanted to find suppliers I could work with that support causes and have a higher purpose other than just turning a profit. There are so many businesses entering the promo industry that are environmentally conscious and support worthwhile causes. I found many B Certified companies as well as companies that are members of the 1 % for the planet group. Click here to learn more about 1% for the planet.

Here are some of the companies and products I really liked. You will find pictures of most of these items in a link below to my Pixieset page.


EcoVessel Drinkware- EcoVessel is a family-owned business in Boulder, Co and they are a member of the 1% for the planet group. They create great-looking stainless drinkware. They also support their long-term partner, Water For People, which brings safe water and sanitation to millions of people in the developing world. Using a product like this, you can include a card inside the drinkware that tells their story. You and the recipient will feel good about the product they are using.

U-Konservce- Stainless food containers as well as stainless straw and other eco-friendly utensils. The lids for the containers are silicone rather than plastic. 

Econscious apparel- Econscious is another member of the 1% For the Planet group. Their materials are PETA-approved by not using any animal fibers in their materials. They also use hemp, organic cotton, and recycled materials in their apparel. 

Stain Imaging- Stain imaging creates a custom, unique design on the shirt. There are several different techniques used with stains, so you really have to see them rather than hear about them. 

Pivot Products- Pivot creates responsibly sourced and manufactured waist packs, bags, and backpacks. They can be customized to your brand's colors and the quality is unmatched. They only work with quality materials and companies that treat their employees well.

Hexa Custom- This is a great brand that makes high-quality custom-made apparel that can be custom designed to match your brand's colors. 

Storm Creek- Storm Creek is a 1% For the Planet member. 100% of the Storm Creek apparel is eco-made while using recycled plastic bottles to make the fabric. 10 recycled plastic bottles go into every piece.

Refresh Glass- Refresh glass rescues bottles from the landfill and turns them into great branded pieces. Their mission is to rescue 10 million bottles from landfills. They take wine bottles and cut them into drinkware and self-watering planters. 

Sofia's Cookies- Sweet and salty confections inside and beautiful custom packaging on the outside. They can even take items they don't sell and bundle them with items they do. With variable data, they can customize each package with a different name. How great would that be to have a client or employee get a personalized gift with great-tasting treats inside.

Custom packing/Kitting- I checked out several custom box and kitting providers but one stood out. Well, a couple did, but this one in particual. They can create the custom box then the die-cut insert to hold your products, but then you can print on the insert next to each item. I love items like this because you can really create a great piece to show off your brand.



Tech products- I love tech items such as Bluetooth speakers and earbuds because they will be kept for a long time, get used almost every day and offer a lot as far as branding opportunities. Most, if not all, offer full-color printing and a large area for branding. Most have great retail-type packaging that can be customized also. They are also a great bundle item to put into a custom package for a gift such as a client or employee appreciation. 


Eyevertising- Sunglasses are great items for outdoor events and you can bundle them with something like a microfiber cloth and pillow box for great custom branding on a large space. I am including this because I saw this company that has sunglasses made from recycled skateboards. There is a picture in the link I am about to share.

Ok, so these are just a few of the companies and products I saw at the Promotional Products Expo in Las Vegas. My takeaway from this show is that the industry is changing. People often think of promo items as cheap giveaways, swag, or Chachkees. Even though, brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Google, VW, and other major brands spend millions on campaigns every year. They do that because they know that if they put their brand on a quality-made item, people will hold on to it and think better of their brand. Sure, you can buy some branded lip balm and call it a day. But it's time to go beyond that and really think about what you can do with this great brand you created. Where do you picture it going? How do you want your clients, employees, and prospects to see you and your brand?

Click here to see some of the products I saw at the show. Let me know if you would like to have a short conversation about what BrandTastik can do for you. Click here to schedule a short conversation.




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