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The global hub for the promotional products industry

Julia Bernert

Published on 14.01.2020

Some “champagne spirits” in 20s style, a little “Roaring Twenties” and, of course, a host of “crazy” ideas: This year’s PSI was a real foray into the “Roaring Twenties”.

With this it impressively underlined its role as the most important meeting point for the industry and international network in Europe in its anniversary year. Although numbers were slightly below the previous year’s levels the organiser Reed Exhibitions registered 16,367 visitors from 81 nations (previous year: 17,602).

“PSI is the global “melting pot” for a whole industry. It moves people, markets and billion-EUR sales on a global scale. This is what makes it unique worldwide,” says PSI Managing Director Michael Freter summing up results of the leading trade show in Düsseldorf, at which 720 exhibitors presented current innovations and trends. The fact that this anniversary did not quite make “gilt frame” record numbers was like a seismographic reaction to the currently worsening market environment in some industries such as the automotive sector, for instance. It is traditionally among the major buyers of promotional products.

This, however, did not diminish the success of PSI as a whole, as Steven Baumgärtner, CEO of cyber-Wear emphasised: “PSI is the only global trade show of this format and the only platform where this industry shows what it is really all about. Here companies invest large sums to present their novelties, their trends and themselves and all of this with the highest degree of quality – in a way that is unrivalled to my mind. PSI is becoming increasingly international, a fact that is truly impressive and underscores the relevance and standing of the trade show for the sector also in a global context.”

This is also stressed by Timothy M. Andrews. The President and CEO of the American industry counterpart ASI is one of the in total 500 CEOs and high-level association representatives who turn PSI into the global hub for the promotional products industry: “I always look forward to travelling to Europe to the PSI show because it never fails to impress me. It is a must-go trade show for everyone in the promotional products industry looking for the latest trends and hottest products.”

It is not only products that are centre stage at the many discussions, as Steven Baum¬gärtner made clear on the occasion of the opening: “Our industry as well as the global economy as a whole is undergoing a fundamental change. New mindsets, new approaches and new visions are called for. We will only get things moving and sustainably change the perception of our sector in the industry together.”

Sustainability as a mega trend and future for the sector

As a mega trend – or as one exhibitor put it: “the future of the industry” – the sustainability theme has moved to very top of priorities. This was confirmed by a glance into the halls. Be it the selection of materials, manufacturing process or the up and recycling of products – this theme has never been more visible than this year. It proves that this theme pushed by PSI very offensively on the market for five years is now in great demand across the board. “There is a significantly greater willingness on the part of advertisers in the industry to dig deeper into their pockets for sustainable promotional products,” comments PSI Director Petra Lassahn. One reason why the “PSI Sustainability Awards” will be presented as part of the trade show from 2021, thereby moving even closer to the PSI show.

Sector sales in Germany rise to EUR 3.65 billion

This view is also reflected in the current industry data traditionally published by the “Gesamtverband der Werbeartikel-Wirtschaft – GWW (Confederation of the Promotional Products Industry) on the occasion of PSI. According to the survey, sustainability plays a role for two thirds of companies when purchasing promotional products. Companies are prepared to spend up to ten percent more on this. “I am impressed how the promotional products industry has anticipated and driven this development,” says Frank Dangmann, President of the “Gesamtverband der Werbeartikel-Wirtschaft (GWW)”.

For the past fiscal year GWW has again registered slightly increased industry sales of EUR 3.65 billion (EUR 3.58 billion in the previous year). With this result promotional products underscore their pole position as advertising media with the highest reach, as Dangmann emphasises: “Promotional products reach 89% of the population from age 14 – unlike any other media. This reach puts promotional products undisputedly at the top of the rankings.”

Market data for the European promotional products industry

This development is in line with the results from the Europe-wide market analysis. The promotional products industry generates annual sales of EUR 14.9 billion in Europe – according to the Techconsult Study ‘Industry Structure Analysis 2017-19’, produced in cooperation with PSI and supported by 13 partners and associations in total. The study reveals: More than one third of total European sales are generated by micro companies employing less than ten staff. Together with major enterprises with over 250 employees these micro companies are therefore the main source of income for the sector. Together they account for over half the turnover.

Federal Ministry of Economics promises support

The performance of this industry also impressed the Federal Ministry of Economics: “It is impressive to see what moves this industry,” said the parliamentary undersecretary of state Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker when speaking at the press conference. This also includes sustainability: “Those not deeming this theme relevant – have not been paying attention,” said Winkelmeier-Becker.

At the same time, she promised to support the industry with a view to freeing the sector from red tape. This especially includes the documentation duty for promotional products exceeding EUR 10 in value. “The red tape associated with this is disproportionate. It is definitely worthwhile taking a closer at this,” the parliamentary undersecretary responded.

Next year PSI, PromoTex Expo and viscom will be held from 12 to 14 January 2021 in Düsseldorf

Note: Visitor, exhibitor and exhibition space numbers stated for PSI, viscom and PromoTex Expo are established and certified in accordance with the uniform definitions of the FKM – Society for the Voluntary Control of Trade Fair and Exhibition Statistics.

Testimonials for PSI:

“PSI is a key event for the global promotional products industry. Permanently developed further to respond to changes on the market it attracts experts who come to learn, network and be informed about the latest trends in the industry. An absolute must-go event.”
Paul Bellantone, CEO Promotional Products Association International

“Every year I look forward to travelling to Europe to attend the PSI trade show because it impresses me time and again. It is a must-go trade show for everyone in the promotional products industry looking for the latest trends and hottest products. I am impressed with the loving attention to detail and the outstanding customer service offered to everyone at the show. I always leave with half a dozen ideas that I immediately want to implement at ASI’s own trade shows. In one word: Go!’”
Timothy M. Andrews, ASI President and Chief Executive Officer

“In the area of promotion, sports and workwear as well as textile finishing sustainability along with compliance with environmental and social criteria all play an increasingly important role. This is why PromoTex Expo, PSI and viscom are important new trade shows for the Global Organic Textile Standard.”
Franziska Dormann, GOTS Representative in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

“At the trade show we above all meet promotional products distributors – this year there were either fewer German or more international distributors here. Our general impression is that the trade show has become more international. We are a longstanding PSI member. The quality of visitors is high.”
Victorinox, Yves Dähler, Head of Corporate Business

“The footfall is very high and the quality of contacts very good. We were absent for some years. At the show we not only make initial contacts but also plan concrete projects. The contacts made at the trade show are as sustainable as the products. We also address the sustainability and organic themes. There is increased demand. This is not a trend but the future. Now we need to seek consumer acceptance since sustainability is in part also associated with higher costs. Our “home turf” is the household appliance sector. The promotional products sector is only an ad-on for us.”
Dipl.-Ing. Peter Städter, Managing Director, Maiback GmbH

“We meet an international audience here which is very helpful. Furthermore, we see both existing and new customers. Contacts are both long and short-term. To us PSI is the leading event for canvassing new customers.”
Ralf Fehrenbacher, President Sales, Karl Knauer

“Of course, we exhibit at PSI. This is a good place especially for networking with our customers from Europe and for demonstrating our growing product portfolio.”
Bas Nijboer, Marketing Manager, Xindao BV

“We are always keen on showcasing our full range from office supplies and bags to camping supplies. The sustainability theme has brought about a perceivable change that we have witnessed at PSI and in the industry over past years. “Packing without Plastic” – is our motto. We avoid unnecessary packaging and substitute unnecessary plastics. Even our products are increasingly made of bamboo, jute or cork.”
Christian Huff, CEO, Macma