2021 State of the Industry Report: What's Next for Promotional Products, the Future of PPE and More
From a global pandemic to a new administration, the past year was filled with attention-grabbing headlines. For Print+Promo Marketing’s 2021 State of the Industry report, we set out to learn more about the central issues currently affecting the print and promotional products industry, and find answers to questions like: Which vertical markets are poised for recovery and how does that impact the products distributors sell.
As part of our investigation, we reached out to experts in various market segments: printed forms, promotional products, labels, branded apparel and direct mail. Below is an excerpt from our conversation with Jo-an Lantz, president and CEO of Geiger, Lewiston, Maine. Find out what she had to say about the current state of promotional products, the long-term prospects for PPE, how the vaccine rollout impacts the industry and more.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the promotional products industry?
Jo-an Lantz: The promo industry mirrors the current economy in many ways. The bifurcation of industry is also a bifurcation of promo, depending upon the markets you serve and your product mix. Distributors who have a portfolio of events, sports, restaurants, hospitality and some public sectors are struggling. Other distributors with a portfolio in health, medical, insurance, transportation, municipalities, construction and food/produce providers are thriving.
Education is a mishmash. COVID protocols slow everything down, including production. PPE created a whole new category of product, something we haven’t seen in many years.
What is demand for PPE currently like and how much longer do you expect PPE to be viable for promo businesses?
JL: The cliché “there ain’t no going back” could be applied to PPE. While the product category may have peaked, people are more aware of how germs are spread and more sensitive to behaviors that could halt the spread. Unlike fad products (remember fidget spinners?), hand sanitizers, sanitizing cloths, masks and those cool mask lanyards will be a promo staple.
Is the vaccine rollout beginning to have an impact on your business and orders? When do you think we’ll begin seeing trade shows and larger events resuming on a wider scale?
JL: The rollout creates an opportunity, from the promotion of vaccines to reminders, signage and [more]. As the curve flattens and reduces, travel, events, sports, hospitality will surge, and along with it, promo. There is a pent up demand to return back to our favorite sporting events, gatherings and dining that will create a promo surge.
What are some pandemic-influenced trends/issues you expect to continue into 2021?
JL: PPE will continue in 2021. Inventory shortages will continue to be an issue. Elective surgeries will resume along with the health care needs. Sadly, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg regarding mental health issues.