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PSI 2016 – Builds on Success

Gordon Glenister spoke to PSI Manager director Michael Freter at the high profile show

As Europe’s largest promotional products industry show, PSI 2016 in January saw an increase of 8% in visitors, and an increase in overseas visitors to the Düsseldorf event of 55%, the best result for over six years.

Show owner Reed Exhibitions recorded 932 exhibitors and 16,810 visitors. There were a number of initiatives at the show, some of which were brand new, and some of which extended previous successes.

The PSI 1st was a great award to celebrate new products at the show. Suppliers have to sign an agreement that the products will not be released before the show, and this year the visitors voted to decide the winners.

The new Competence area was all about reinforcing the message of best practice, with talks delivered by a range of top speakers. These covered issues including intellectual property, legislation, product safety, and sustainability.

The show also saw a trial of the online business matchmaking system, with a number of appointments made and, hopefully, deals done. PSI also launched its third generation Product Finder – “the quality of supplier data is the best yet.” comments Michael Freter.

The show also saw a continuation of the Design Forum, which sees designers submit ideas with a view of the industry taking them into full manufacture. One pasta shaker product at a previous PSI eventually saw more than 20,000 units produced. The clothing sector has been helped by the Catwalk event giving it a key focus, while the popular GUSTO area gives visitors the chance to taste foods. 

One of the event’s biggest launches was the Industry Barometer, including respondents from many European countries – some 1500 companies in total responded.

While the industry is showing real positivity about revenue growth, the Barometer shows there are still concerns over compliance issues, including the Product Safety Act, the public sector, the pharmaceutical bans, and in some countries the impact of income tax on companies giving gifts.“The industry needs to embrace fair trade and transparency within the supply chain. It needs to continue to look to become more professional,” says Freter.

Gordon Glenister’s Q&A with Michael Freter:

What do you think of some of the exhibition booths at PSI?

“The creativity and presentation of product has been one of the best yet. We need to use shows to present product in a way that declutters and focuses on the product.”

What’s new for 2017? 

“For the first time we are going to welcome end users to the PSI show, but with distributors on the Thursday, which will be the new last day.” Recognising that this may be contentious, Freter has set up a working group of key suppliers and distributors from the German Association (GWW) to ask their opinions and gain their approval. He adds: “We have to educate end users to the value of promotional products, and PSI gives them a rare insight to see what’s possible. There are no risks, just opportunities. The reality too is that just 41% of our supplier members are selling just to distributors.”

What do you think about Vistaprint and potentially Amazon entering the market?

“It was only a matter of time that these organisations enter our space, they have the infrastructure to manage fast and efficient service. The personalisation is a huge opportunity and whilst there are threats yet, there are also opportunities through online to reach a wider audience of those that have never bought promotional products before. More and more distributors have strong online presences.”

Freter sums up that he sees PSI “as a key driver in bringing the whole European industry together rather than working against each other”.

The bpma held its annual pavilion at PSI, helping UK suppliers develop their export strategy into Europe. Burex, 14 Trade Promotions, PopKakery, Trilogy Lasercraft, Foremost Magnets, Premier Sports were all part of the UK pavilion, while a number of other bpma members were spread around the show. The bpma was delighted to have awarded 14 UKTI grants of £1500, as well as also supporting members with a tailored translated German brochure, with added support from translators at the show. The bpma held an informal dinner on the Thursday to allow other exhibitors to network and build relationships, an approach which has worked well over the years. Gordon Glenister comments: “This was another great show, with excellent reaction from UK suppliers.”

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