Crunching Numbers, Taking Names
Some product categories weren't as lucky. Once again, printed forms put forth the highest showing at $502.0 million-but this figure was down from last year's $513.3 million. The remaining categories followed suit. E-commerce finished at $32.2 million (2012: $44.2 million); barcodes/RFID fell to $39.1 million (2012: $57.0 million); and plastic products/cards totals declined to $121.1 million (2012: $124.9 million).
Perhaps the biggest upset belonged to the Web solutions category (e.g., PURLS, QR codes and software). After last year's impressive showing of $182.6 million, Web solutions only consisted of $17.1 million.
With the recent surge in multi-channel marketing and web-to-print activity, these numbers are puzzling at best. Some companies were unable to break down total revenue by product sectors, which may account for the discrepancy. Either way, Print+Promo plans to look for similar patterns among submissions from the industry's leading distributors next month.
The Top 50 Promotional Products Suppliers chart returned for another year. Published in July 2013 from our sister publication, Promo Marketing (PM), the list is based on 2012 revenue. And according to PM results, there was a significant increase in numbers from 2011 to 2012. In fact, suppliers brought in roughly $200 million more in 2012 than in 2011. PM attributes the bump to a newfound confidence after years of scrambling to recover lost funds. PM's research revealed a steady increase of new hires, demonstrating confidence in the product, the long-term growth of the company and, most importantly, distributor partners.
In a constantly evolving industry, it is nearly impossible to identify long-term trends with certainty. While executives wait for the ink to dry on freshly signed contracts, they should be thinking of different ways to spend their creative energy. A bright future awaits those willing to work for it.
We congratulate each and every company that made either list and wish them the best of luck in 2014. Check back in November to see how the distributors fared over the last year.