In Counselor magazine’s December 2011 issue, predictions to watch for were revealed which may be key to impact the business climate in 2012.
Elections are Local: Election years are always a benefit to the promotional product industry, and campaign spending is predicted to increase 25% from 2010. But, forget about the larger presidential race election. Find and focus on the local, county and city races. Given the ongoing tumultuous economy, campaign contributors are giving less and looking for accountability from the campaigns to show them how their donated dollars are being spent. This results in the purchase of basic essential products in lieu of larger “showy” items (i.e. bumper stickers vs. signage).
Changing Buying Habits: This industry has finally become a victim of the sour economy. Where once promotional products were viewed as one of the most inexpensive methods of putting a branded message out there, now, like any other expenditure, ad specialty spending is being scrutinized like any other. Customers are still buying many of the same products, however, mainly due to the employment situation, are purchasing fewer items and less expensive product. Also, the initiative to find the absolute lowest price out there has also impacted the “loyalty” factor between client and vendor.
All About the Brand: More ASI suppliers are offering brand-name manufacturers’ products. When customers do have a budget to purchase premium products, they want brands that will reflect well on their appearance. All Star has factory direct relationships with over 60 of the most popular brand name manufacturers.
Competition and Pricing are Fierce: Inexperienced, uneducated entrepreneurs creating the wrong impression in the field and online competitors have done a disservice to the industry. Low-cost vendors and internet stores have changed the price expectations of the end user customer. One way to combat this trend is through exceptional customer service and creativity. The results of a recent customer survey showed that All Star’s Customer Service had an over 90% approval rating overall.
Customer Service is King: With the ever-stressed, overworked corporate end-user wearing more “hats” then ever, becoming a partner and not just a product peddler is crucial. More distributors are becoming more involved with customer business development and branding strategies. The Corporate Identity Division, along with the Marketing Department, at All Star is expert in the development of innovative approaches to get company branding messages “out there”.