The big, scary word these past two weeks is tariffs, and while it sounds nasty, it's really not if you start planning for it. If you have not paid attention to the news lately, trade talks with China have gone south, and now there is currently a 25% tariff on certain goods, and another 25% possible to take hold over the summer that will affect almost all products. This means that most items you find in stores, like electronics, tools, clothing, and more, are going to go up in price this summer - just the cold hard facts. The jump is too big for a business to "eat" until the next standard price increase.
This does not mean you should be going into full panic mode!
While most items in the promotional product world do in fact have some parts coming from China (including things you would not think about like the zipper on the jacket as an example), there has been a recent surge in products made in America and elsewhere. Vendors who supply promotional products had already started last year sourcing from other countries to help ease and remove the burden of the China/US Trade war from your pocket.
To help limit the exposure your marketing budget will have to tariffs, consider the following questions when working with your promotional product professional.
- Instead of just choosing the cheapest option, consider where the product is being sourced from. Some products will say "printed in the USA" or "Assembled in the USA", but where is the product actually made? The parts or product may be made in China, and thus actually affected by tariffs.
- “Can we start planning sooner?” The further ahead you plan with your promotional product professional, the better it will be for you, as sometime you can actually source product from an American vendor or alternative countries. Some of the most significant savings come when vendors have 30 to 90 days, because they can use a less expensive method of transportation from the factory, like rail or boat, on a high quantity project.
- Ask yourself, "What will work the best?", not "what's the best for the dollar." The worst thing that can happen with your promotional purchase is after investing your time and energy in the project, it just ends up in the trash. Honestly, think about what message you are trying to convey, how you would feel about receiving that item, and how you want to present yourself. Making a smart choice here will be critical to your project, as no other marketing medium can give you the return you can get with a promotional item, as long as you know how to use it.
Lastly, take a deep breath.
Remember, everyone is going to be affected by this, including your competition. Everyone is going to feel the pricing pinch and see the effects trickle down. I hope by reading this, I have given you some tools enabling you to work with your promotional product professional in attempting to help maximize your budget for the upcoming fall season.