Special Markets Dialogues, a small group of thought leaders in the corporate gift and recognition marketplace, met recently in Las Vegas for two days to network and discuss the corporate gift, recognition, rewards, incentive and motivation industry landscape. The 34 invited attendees represented brand merchandise manufacturers, solutions providers, association professionals, gift card providers, promotional products distributors and suppliers and manufacturers’ representatives.

This year’s lineup of discussion topics, many of which were generated by the attendees in advance of the gathering, focused on the implications and impact of challenges and issues in the broader business world on the incentive and recognition marketplace. Topics included:

  • Predictions about the decline of and dramatic changes in the retail industry
  • Revelations about the rise of digital advertising
  • A rapidly increasing shift to online purchases by the public as well as our industry’s clients
  • The consolidation of online shopping to just a few giant online providers such as Amazon, Alibaba and eBay
  • How Millennials are impacting buying decisions for incentive merchandise, gift cards and other forms of recognition
  • The rise of experiential giving and the implications for traditional forms of rewards and recognition
  • “New” rewards points programs that convert points to cash on debit cards to be used anywhere debit cards are accepted
  • Recent acquisitions and mergers in the broad incentive and promotional market
  • Challenges and relationships among incentive and multiline representatives, national marketing companies and brand manufacturers
  • Updates on association and private entity trade shows and events, hosted buyer and traveling show programs
  • Announcements of upcoming association educational programs, research projects and public outreach programs
  • Review of important government regulation and legislative challenges and opportunities

The attendees shared their candid views about the discussion topics as well as their business challenges in 2017 and their prospects for improvement in 2018.

The Special Markets Dialogues meeting has been conducted annually since the early 1990s, bringing together company owners and executives to network, share ideas, discuss strategies and debate the future of the marketplace.