Best Of The PPAI Expo 2023: Distributors' Top Picks
While industry suppliers unveiled dozens if not hundreds of new products at The PPAI Expo, a few themes emerged when it came to which ones attendees found most appealing and memorable. We asked a handful of distributors – including several judges of the first-ever “The Pitch” event – what were their favorite new products from the show and why.
Danny Rosin, CAS
Co-President, Brand Fuel
PPAI 277900, D8
Raleigh, North Carolina
A member of the judging panel for “The Pitch,” Rosin conferred with his team at Brand Fuel to find out what they liked best overall.
“The Brand Fuel team was blown away with suppliers’ efforts to introduce sustainable and design-focused products,” says Rosin. “Each of these comes with a powerful story that we believe clients will respond to with, ‘Heck, yes!’”
Rosin and his team love this cotton/rayon blend Corbet Quilted Full Zip Hoodie with poly insulation. “Marine Layer is a fellow B Corp that has put massive effort into responsible sourcing,” he says. “Couple that with it being a recognizable retail brand, and we are super excited.” Available in heathered navy (shown) or olive, sizes S-2X.
Marine Layer / PPAI 690355, S1
He also points to Parker Clay, another B Corp, whose high-quality leather items are sure to wow clients and recipients alike – such as this gender-neutral Bale Sling Bag. Handcrafted from full-grain Ethiopian leather, the versatile bag features a durable strap and two zippered pockets. Available in rust brown (shown) or black.
Parker Clay / PPAI 816759, S0
For “a community-building charcuterie experience we can get behind,” Rosin suggests an Acacia Cheese Board. These beautiful and unique pieces blend acacia hardwood and an eco-friendly epoxy to create one-of-a-kind serving boards. Available in nine colors, gift box included.
Lynn & Liana Designs / PPAI 811786, S0
Lively Root, a plant gifting service, caught the attention of more than one of our sources for this piece. Rosin appreciates that the company “offers a living, breathing gift and also donates to the Arbor Day Foundation and global reforestation with every purchase.” Design your own plant kit for individual or bulk gifting – or make it your signature welcome or thank-you gift with their on-demand service.
Lively Root / PPAI 813817, S0
PPAI 204997, D11
Los Angeles, California
Kahan, another judge, says he had a blast doing “The Pitch” and was impressed by the featured products, particularly these two designed for outdoor experiences that bring people together:
The 3-in-1 Frost Backpack Cooler Chair from Trailform “is fun, useful, creative and actually works,” says Kahan. Simply open the top, bottom and middle zippers, set up the chair frame, attach the anchor points on the pack to the chair frame, then sit back and relax. With built-in insulated cooler pockets, expandable storage capacity and an ultra-lite chair, you get maximum versatility and comfort, all packed into a product that weighs just 3 pounds (and supports up to 300).
Trailform / PPAI 813617, S0
Whether you’re hiking the trail or just enjoying a cool evening on the porch, the S’mores Night Pack includes everything you need to make four s’mores – including a portable bonfire, handmade with nontoxic materials in Maryland. This creative kit engages the senses for a lasting impression, says Kahan.
City Bonfires / PPAI 814515, S1
President and Co-Owner, Walker-Clay
PPAI 109398, D6
Clay, another member of the judging panel, marveled at the number of new products on display at the PPAI Expo – but there's one she says she just can’t put down.
“I get lots of pen samples,” says Clay,” however, the new Wizzard Pen from Hub Pen is becoming my favorite. The fidget spinner at the top is addicting.”
Who says executive pens can’t be fun? This twist retraction metal stylus pen features a fun fidget spinner on top that whizzes around with a flick of your thumb, plus a jumbo barrel for ergonomic comfort and black anti-fraud (ballpoint) ink for writing excellence. Add your client’s logo with an engraved silver imprint (or full color on the white pen).
HPG / PPAI 110772, S11
Clay was also excited to see hot retail products meeting their promo match on the trade show floor.
“If you have been on TikTok, you have seen the Stanley Tumbler. It was one of the hottest items this holiday season,” she says. “The Intrepid from Hit is a perfect alternative to the Stanley. I love that they used the chunky handle. I already have a self-promo on this in the works.”
The 40-oz. Intrepid Stainless Steel Tumbler is BPA-free and vacuum insulated to preserve hot or cold liquids. Its screw-on, spill-resistant lid helps keep things tidy on the go, and the large handle provides easy carrying. Available in five colors (shown in light blue).
Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S14
Director of Sales and Vendor Relations, Kaeser & Blair
PPAI 103148, D12
Sachs consulted her team of “masterminds” to find out what they were most excited about. Cleverly packaged snacks and a useful tech product topped their list.
They loved the Happy’s gift boxes of snacks and other items, curated for eight occasions (including welcome, birthday, thank you and more) and ready to customize with your client’s message on the enclosed greeting card. “It’s a great tool for new employee onboarding,” says Sachs.
Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S14
For a super functional tech item, Sachs and her team like the Chi-Charge Stack Foldable 3-in-1 Fast Charge Mat for Apple and Android. This compact device can wirelessly charge a compatible phone, watch and earbud case all the same time. Available in black or white.
Twintech Industry / PPAI 261545, S6
For a sweet treat, Sachs points to Sweeter Cards, a women-owned business that employs adults with disabilities to package its all-in-one greeting cards and gourmet chocolate bars. “Love the chocolate and the imprint/messaging ideas,” she says. Each batch is handmade in St. Louis using Fair Trade Certified ingredients, and you can choose from their retail selection or design your own custom card (shown).
Sweeter Cards / PPAI 810735, S1