Industry Pros Discuss Current, Future Challenges to Corporate Gift & Recognition Market
A small group of industry thought leaders, under the banker of Special Markets Dialogues, met recently in Las Vegas at the Green Valley Ranch Resort for two days to network and discuss the corporate gift, recognition, rewards, incentive and motivation marketplace. The 34 invited attendees were comprised of brand merchandise manufacturers, solutions providers, association professionals, gift card providers, promotional products distributors and suppliers, and manufacturers' representatives.
This year's dynamic lineup of discussion topics, with many 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.
- Revelations about the rise of digital advertising.
- A rapidly increasing shift to online purchases by the public as well as industry clients.
- The consolidation of online shopping to just a few giant online providers such as Amazon, Alibaba and eBay.
- How millennials are affecting 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.
Of the 2017 Dialogues meeting itself, one participant stated, "It is my favorite meeting of the year. It allows me to get out of my industry segment and hear about others. It's also the only place where we try to discuss the larger issues that impact or will impact our business."
Another said, "This is my first Dialogues meeting, but the discussion during the first half-hour has already convinced me I need to be here."
A veteran Dialogues attendee said, "Dialogues is without a doubt the best 36 hours of time I spend with my industry peers, uninterrupted and candid. Lots of valuable insight and thought about what, where and how things are moving in our world."
The Special Markets Dialogues meeting has been conducted annually since the early 1990s and is considered one of the industry's most important venues for company owners and executives to network, share ideas, discuss strategies and debate the future of the marketplace. This forum was founded by the late George Kling, considered one of incentive marketing's preeminent minds and mentor to many, under his Potential Profits Group company brand. The meeting was subsequently re-branded as Special Markets Dialogues by Pete Mitchell, recently retired as Director for B-to-B Sales for Samsonite, who very ably planned and facilitated Dialogues from 2005 to 2015. Dialogues continues today under the leadership of Mike Landry, Vice President of Special Markets for Tumi, Inc., Dean Resnekov, Owner of Indigo, Karen Wesloh, Executive Director of the Incentive Marketing Association and Steve Slagle, retired former president of the Promotional Products Association International, who also has moderated the past two Dialogues forums.