Printed Plastic Products--An Industry Changing of the Guard
From gift cards to door hangers, printed plastic products are steadily replacing their paper-made counterparts, and in turn, multiplying industry profits.
Just as the coveted department store gift card and the ever-present 60-minute pre-paid phone card have made a name for themselves, plastic cards and products are also taking on an increasingly dominant role in today's business practices.
Arthur Blank & Co., a Boston-based supplier of private-label plastic cards, produces a variety of cards, including gift cards, membership and identification cards, access control cards and loyalty program cards.
While color and design are usually the first attributes that capture customers' attention, there is more to a plastic card than color, noted Eric Domschine, marketing services manager for Arthur Blank & Co.
"These projects generally go through two separate companies—the actual producers of the gift cards and a systems integrator," he explained. "Systems integrators are companies that set up the hardware and software for the gift card. They tailor the program to fit retailers' needs," he added.
Of all of Arthur Blank & Co.'s products, Domschine said that gift card sales are dominant. "Gift cards generate most of our sales. They are used by many retailers, with industry analysts projecting that 60 percent of retailers will convert from paper to plastic by 2005," he commented.
On the contrary, Brian Grimes, sales manager for Plastic Graphic Company, based in Wauconda, Ill., said that while plastic cards are a large part of the company's sales, non-plastic card items generate more profit. "Our non-plastic card items, such as gauges and templates, tend to generate more profit because there is less competition for them in the market," he said.
Both agreed, however, that overall printed plastic products have proven to garner high profits for distributors.
According to Domschine, an ACNeilson survey showed that 64 percent of American households said that loyalty programs were important factors in their shopping decisions, and that "half of all adults carry up to three plastic cards—10 or more when household incomes exceed $100,000."