What’s Trending at Expo East
Beginning on Tuesday morning, Expo East attendees have been taking in product displays in the more than 100,000 square feet of exhibitor space at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The Product Pavilion at the show’s entrance offered a glimpse of trending products, and after perusing the impressive array of products across the show floor, a few additional trends began to emerge.
The increase in consumer consciousness has generated an unprecedented interest in brand activism, including products made with social responsibility and fair trade in mind. Saint Louis, Missouri-based supplier Diane Katzman Design (PPAI 396045), is a first-time exhibitor at Expo East. The booth displays a fashionable collection of custom jewelry, ties, scarves and gifts, and the line of beaded decorative lanyards is popular for executive and incentive trips. Production Manager Sveta Kurbatava says the company has recently started importing beads made in Gana and Nigeria for corporate events in Africa. “Instead of a safari theme, people are more interested in giving back, and incorporating locally-made items such as these beads helps community businesses and creates a memorable souvenir,” she says.
Several suppliers noted the expansion of products created specifically for women. Sean Moore, trade show manager at Sharon, Massachusetts-based Charles River Apparel (PPAI 111644), points out a brightly colored wind and water-resistant pullover with a light jersey lining that has been popular at the show. “People have been ordering more fashion-forward products to wear every day,” he says. “Historically, our sales have been spread evenly between men’s and women’s products, and we try to have companion pieces with everything we introduce. But lately, a lot of our sales have been in the women’s market. It’s our largest area of growth.”
Charles Huang, vice president of sales and marketing for Minya International Corp (PPAI 112523), says their target industries are primarily aviation and automotive, but one of their bestsellers is a lipstick pen, often purchased for women’s conferences.
Newcomer Monkey Mat, based in Austin, Texas, is having success with their portable, water-repellant, weighted mats that fit inside a tiny attached pouch that conveniently clips to a bag or clothing. The product debuted on Shark Tank in 2014, and the owners are still working with two of the investors on the show. Courtney Jones, director of sales and marketing, says, “The carabiner clip makes it a great product for branding, because once people attach it to something, they always leave it there, and it’s a must-have when you’re on the go. Our product suits so many different demographics, such as outdoor music festivals, but they’ve also been popular with the mom-and-baby market, and we have had a lot of hospitals put them in their new mommy baskets.”
Now that wellness appears to be elevated from a trend to a lifestyle, particularly for Millennials, products that fit in this market are innovative and abundant. New business Pinch Me Therapy Dough is generating buzz with soft, silky putty infused with soothing scents. Owner Nancy Rothner, a holistic wellness therapist, came up with the idea for the stress reliever and has seen it take off, with end buyers such as Facebook and Toyota, and with inclusion in the 2014 American Music Awards celebrity gift bags. The business is new to promotional products, but if the crowd surrounding the booth is any indication, the future for this wellness addition looks promising.
Asked about the selection of innovative products at Expo East, Liz Collito, of Fairfield, New Jersey-based distributor MJG Promotions, says, “Every year, I come to this show thinking that there can’t possibly be anything new, and every year there’s at least one thing that completely blows me away.”