Behind the Scenes
The remaining categories had the following endings: Labels and tags accounted for $82.0 million (2011: $84.0 million); e-commerce comprised $99.4 million in sales (2011: $125.6 million); and envelopes/folders/stationery averaged $55.0 million (2011: $60.2 million).
Keeping with the trend of total annual sales, plastic products/cards were fairly stagnant at $18.0 million (2011: $17.9 million). Meanwhile, the "other" category produced $53.0 million (2011: $53.4 million). Common responses for this particular sector were:
• Office supplies and furniture
• Specialty products
• Warehouse fulfillment
• Printer ribbons
• Freight and packaging
• Mailing equipment
• Digital print
• Industrial signage
• Stock paper
• Records and media storage
Some of these entries may skew the "other" category because the decision to consider apparel as something miscellaneous instead of a promotional product is left to the distributor's discretion. And, digital print was removed from the list of individual options unlike years past.
These findings may not seem reassuring, but remember, this is only a small sampling of distributors and does not represent the industry as a whole. But, it's not all doom and gloom. In line with the top suppliers issue, Print+Promo made another addition to the list: the inclusion of the top 50 promotional products distributors (published in May 2012) from our sister publication, Promo Marketing (PM). This list is based on 2011 revenue, and according to PM's results, the industry has a fighter's heart to remain relevant despite potential struggles. For example, new threats promised danger from different angles. There were government PR smears against promotional products and the industry also faced a business climate where companies folded, got purchased and merged in ways that would bring about major change. Nevertheless, lobbying efforts started to get traction with the government and distributorships kept innovating, thriving and expanding.