The Evolution of the Promo Industry

Posted by BIC GRAPHIC on 13th Oct 2020

The Evolution of the Promo Industry

Thanks to George & Jasper

The first promos on record in the U.S. were commemorative buttons used during George Washington’s election. Their success led to the development of other useful promotional items like calendars and wood items like rulers, but the industry as we know it today wouldn’t be born until the 19th century.

In 1904, 12 promotional products manufacturers agreed to form the Advertising Manufacturers Association. This group would eventually become the Promotional Products Association; holding conventions, designating promotional products as a legitimate advertising medium and creating uniformity in terms and trade practices.

Continued Gains

In more recent history, the promo industry saw steady growth for over a decade with Distributors regularly describing the industry as healthy, competitive and steady.(3) With the growth in popularity of retail brands and consumer preference for higher-quality, attractive and useful items, the perception of promos shifted from low-cost giveaways to products people undeniably wanted to keep. 2019 even saw a new annual record for industry revenue of $25.8 billion.(4) Then, along came Coronavirus.

The Test of 2020

The promotional products industry has faced challenges before (remember ’02 and ’09?) and recovered well each time. However, this time things feel different as most social events have disappeared and almost every industry has felt the devastating impacts of COVID-19.

Looking Ahead

We’re all waiting to see exactly how the promotional products industry will evolve. But the trends, popular categories and processes that have persevered over the last year are probably here to stay. At least for a little while.

Use Past Lessons to Build a Profitable Future

The industry has faced challenges before, so we can use the lessons we learned back then to survive and thrive. Here are a few tactics Promo Distributors can use to get through this difficult time and build a strong and successful future as our industry evolves.