The City Of Light Shines On Promo Potential
The issues facing the promotional products industry are, increasingly, global in nature. Supply chain, compliance, inflation, climate change and other challenges all cross borders. Earlier this month, to foster collaboration and connect with the Association’s international partners, PPAI leadership traveled to Paris to attend the Premium Sourcing trade show and meet with French industry leaders.
Making the trip to Paris were Dale Denham, MAS+, PPAI president and CEO, Dawn Olds, MAS, PPAI board chair and senior vice president of industry relations and DEI at HALO, and Todd Pottebaum, MAS+, PPAI immediate past chair and president of Quality Resource Group. They attended the Premium Sourcing 2022 trade show and met with peers in the French promo market to learn how PPAI can support the promo industry in the European Union.
Several of the French industry professionals PPAI’s team met with have shared their perspectives on the value of cross-border collaboration and what international cooperation can do for the promotional products market.
Denham, Olds and Pottebaum met with several organizations in France to learn more about the local market and build on PPAI’s relationships with the promo marketing in Europe.
“We were honored to meet with part of the PPAI board,” says Antony Villéger, president of Fédération Française des Professionnels de la Communication Par l'Objet (2FPCO), the association serving the French promotional products industry. “We have many points of synergy to connect to one another through the medium of branded merchandise. I am sure that we can build lasting links between our associations to spread the power of promotional merchandise throughout the world.”
Premium Sourcing 2022, which ran September 7-8 at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, was an opportunity to learn more about the European promotional products industry. The trade show brought together a range of exhibitors serving the French promotional market, and at the September event, focused on end-of-the-year needs and anticipating what 2023 will bring.
“More than ever, international cooperation is at the heart of the promotional products industry,” says Pierre Mirlit, CEO of 656 Editions, the company behind the Premium Sourcing trade show. “By the nature of its value chain, this market has been quite early international, notably on the offer side. But the demand side is also more and more eager of for international coherence and convergence.
Magali Chéchin, export manager at European Sourcing, a business-to-business platform for promotional products in Europe, says, “For more than 20 years, institutional contacts existed between the American and European associations and show organizers in our industry. Generally, it was clear ‘who was who’ and ‘who did what,’ but the framework to really collaborate together did not really exist, for the most part. In recent years, the situation has changed due to the crises we have experienced and the challenges we still face today.”
Myriad issues push the promo industry toward cooperation across the Atlantic. Shared supply chain pain, the push toward corporate social responsibility, international compliance standards and the growth of truly global brands make it a fait accompli.
Villéger notes that organizations like PPAI and 2FPCO can make transatlantic cooperation more efficient and effective for all.
“Europe is a complex system with as many cultures and languages as member states,” he says. “France is an essential bridge between Europe and the United States, not only from a geographical point of view but also in terms of economics and logistics.”
Working across borders pools resources and ideas that benefit everyone participating in the conversation.
“More than ever, our industry must draw inspiration from successful models to reinvent itself and international cooperation,” says Chéchin. “In this case, cooperation between the United States and Europe can be the source of new opportunities. What can I learn from observing how the market works across the Atlantic? What works better than in our home market and why? What can we bring to each other and pass it on to our respective markets to raise performance? It is more important than ever to explore other ways and models.”
Mirlit says, “Marketers’ mottos about ‘thinking globally and acting locally’ require cooperation between different market players from different countries. This underlies the critical necessity of official national bodies and associations to have close ties to promote the promotional products industry on a global scale and tackle, collectively, global challenges like sustainability within the industry.”
The PPAI delegation’s journey to Paris was driven by the Association’s global perspective on the industry and its intention to support its members no matter where they operate in the world.
“Associations need to provide better local and global visibility on the market,” says Mirlit. “This means that in the short term, meetings with Dale, Dawn and Todd will probably help align the way we look at the market, and to provide standards in research papers and analysis. The exchange of best practices are the kind of quick wins we could put in place easily.
“COVID has decreased international collaboration in our market for obvious reasons. We need to rebuild it to help our members and players grow overseas. Doing so gives us a better understanding of what is happening outside of our own countries, and easier access to needed information.”
Developing its international connections makes PPAI a better partner to member companies seeking to do business abroad.
“Distributors and suppliers both may be interested in broadening their horizons to find vendors and customers on opposite sides of the Atlantic,” says Chéchin. “From this comes the legal and administrative aspect: What are the regulations in the U.S. and Europe? How can I find a reliable business partner in one of these markets? Which authorities can help me? What is the commercial potential in a given market? Who are the key players?
“These are all key questions that can be addressed in meetings such as the one we recently organized in Paris. It is obvious that our respective associations clearly have an essential role to play sharing their knowledge.”
Transatlantic collaboration can also be a source of new quality standards, which, Chéchin notes, can further raise up the promotional products industry.
“During serious crises or profound changes in our industry, we have always seen that those who knew how to remain open, curious, inventive and innovative always came out on top,” she says. “I am convinced that it is in the interest of all of us to share our skills, communicate our know-how and ideas in order to move forward together, rather than remaining stuck in our habits and positions, as long as this is done in a win-win spirit.