These are the Promotional Products Categories Currently In Demand, Survey Says
Unimaginable challenges have defined a year that began with such promise. It’s easy to forget that just seven months ago, we were monitoring a flurry of mergers and acquisitions activity that signaled good economic health. Various product sectors, including wide format, packaging and personalized marketing campaigns, were the hot products positioned for a successful 2020. But then the coronavirus arrived, impacting nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives, and soon after, the narrative changed from “promise” to “pivoting.”
Not surprisingly, print and promotional products distributors and suppliers have seen strong demand for personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer, making health care products one of the most consistent performers in our industry. The numbers don’t lie.
Roughly 67.5% of the respondents surveyed in the second installment of our COVID-19 Promotional Products Industry Recovery Research study, conducted by NAPCO research, said that health care sales were trending upward for the June-July period. Though a slight decline from the 69.8% of companies that saw increases during the April-May timeframe, good news remains. Approximately 17.3% of respondents, consisting of promo distributors, promo suppliers, apparel decorators, print distributors and commercial printers, saw activity stay the same (up from 13.4%) and 15.2% saw decreased demand (down from 16.9%).
One survey respondent said, “Everyone is looking for items with a health angle—PPE, sanitizer, lip balm, etc.”
Businesses that have been flexible enough to transition to PPE have been able to offset some of their losses in other areas, but there is still a long road ahead. Going forward, it is also important to recognize the difference between diversifying and diversifying profitably.
“Sales and activities are increasing over recent months, but sales in general are down over [the] prior year,” said another survey respondent.
While none of the remaining product categories put forth particularly encouraging numbers, they continue to show signs of life. Naturally, some are faring better than others. Based on our data:
- Print Products was the second-best performing category for June-July, holding steady from April-May. The number of respondents reporting increased sales came in at 18.7%, compared to 17.8% in the prior period. According to our results, 37.4% said demand stayed the same and 43.9% observed decreased demand.
- Apparel saw the biggest jump, with 18.6% of respondents seeing an uptick in sales, compared to 10.6% in April-May. Office & Home had a noticeable increase as well, finishing at 12.4%, compared to 8.5%, which can be explained by ongoing remote work.
- Not including Health Care and Print Products, nine product categories saw at least a 50% decrease in demand֫, with the biggest upset occurring in the Trade Show/Events Products at 82.2%. However, for all 11 product categories, the percentage of respondents reporting that demand was staying the same in June-July was higher than in April-May.
Here is the full data table:
Of note, the June-July period saw significant improvements in the percentage of businesses reporting increases in both quote activity (30.9%, up from 18.0%) and new orders (32.3%, up from 16.2%).
“Confidence levels indicate a tempering of both positive and negative expectations, as 34.6% expect business conditions to improve over the next month (down from 38.2%), 24.2% expect conditions to stay the same (up from 16.4%), and 19.4% expect conditions to decline (down from 23.7%),” the report stated.
For additional insights and data on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the print and promotional products industry, download the full Volume 1, Number 2 COVID-19 Promotional Products Industry Recovery Research study here.
About NAPCO Research
NAPCO Research develops research and economic models that solve customer business problems. Market research is valuable for making strategic business decisions, solving challenges, and pursuing opportunities, and the NAPCO Media research team surveys, analyzes, and monitors critical trends related to marketing, printing, packaging, nonprofit organizations, promotional products, and retailing. To learn more about how the team can leverage its research and industry subject matter experts to support your organization's needs, contact Nathan Safran, vice president of research for NAPCO Media, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.