For most of the past decade, the majority of the most popular promotional products have been coming from China. When you are looking at the big categories, including writing instruments, drinkware, bags, and computer accessories, you’ll find that most are manufactured in China, and then decorated here in the USA. It just made the most sense in terms of economy.
But the tide is turning. China’s workers began demanding a living wage, and are now earning much more than just a couple of years ago. The vast difference between Chinese and American currency values has also begun to equalize. On top of this, American operating efficiencies are rapidly improving.
According to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, it has become common for American and Chinese sources to be about equal in cost. Quicker production times, from eliminating ocean shipping, bring an additional advantage to the idea of buying American.
APTCO works with a large network of promotional suppliers who customize products to suit the marketing objectives of our clients. And while many of these are still imported as blank products, we’re finding more and more manufacturing being done here. This can be a good fit for many marketing programs where American-made fits well with the theme of a promotion.
Earlier this month we were talking about what a powerful promotion a bobblehead day could be for major league baseball teams. They’ve been proven to drive sales in a big way. The NY Yankees planned one for Sept. 24, 2013, honoring retiring pitcher Mariano Rivera. But everything turned sour for thousands of New York Yankees’ fans who waited for hours when the figurines arrived late. “Although a perfect storm of circumstances beyond our control led to the delay in the distribution of last night’s promotional item, the fact remains that our fans were inconvenienced,” said Yankees’ COO Lonn Trost, in a statement. “It matters little why – only that they were.” The New Tork Daily News described the scene as chaotic.
The Yankees were scheduled to give away Mariano Rivera bobbleheads to the first 18,000 fans in attendance at Tuesday’s game at Yankee Stadium. But the bobbleheads were delayed twice, including once when a truck broke down in New Jersey on the day of the game. The team postponed the opening of the stadium gates by an hour as fans lined up to enter. As the delays continued, the team printed up vouchers for fans to claim the bobblehead during and after the game. As a result, thousands of fans missed much of the game, instead waiting in long lines to get the bobbleheads once they had arrived after 6:00 p.m. “It was total chaos, people were standing on line and missing the game. They were yelling and screaming,” a police source told the New York Post.
To make up for the snafu, the Yankees apologized to the fans and offered a complimentary 2014 regular season ticket to all ticket holders from Tuesday’s game. Deborah Tymon, the Yankees’ senior VP of marketing, told the New York Daily News the team typically receives promotional shipments on the day of the game because of storage restrictions at the stadium. The company handling the promotion for the Yankees has undoubtedly learned some lessons about contingency planning from this episode.
In 1913, the T-shirt as we now know it made its appearance as standard-issue gear for the US Navy. Lightweight and cool, they were easy to care for and popular with sailors. It didn’t take long for the Army to follow suite, and before long they became commercially available. But who could have guessed at that time what an impact the T-shirt would have? Nobody would have predicted that it would be an essential part of the American wardrobe a century later. The simple construction of the T-shirt has made it ideal for displaying a message. Advertisers quickly recognized that a person wearing a T-shirt becomes a walking billboard. They learned that consumers would happily wear their shirts, delivering that advertising for free. Even better, they discovered that shirts with attractive designs could be sold, not just given away. Talk about a win-win!
The retail marketplace is loaded with iconic designs that celebrate cultural trends and milestones. Fundraisers have learned that they can earn a lot of money by selling decorated shirts that they hope will become equally popular. Speaking of decoration, while screen printing is the most common method, there are many other techniques used to create eye-catching designs. Check out our review in a recent newsletter. Meanwhile, let’s see if we can blow out those 100 candles!
California could be considered the epicenter of the fight to ban single-use bags from grocery stores and other retailers. More than 75 cities and counties in California, including Malibu, San Francisco and Los Angeles County, have some form of ordinance on disposable bags. This covers about 20% of the population of the state. The problem is that while such bags are intended to be recycled, only a tiny fraction really are. We wrote about this last month in aptcoweb news. Even when consumers make the attempt, municipal recycling and disposal facilities have great difficulty handling them properly. Thus a widespread move is afoot to ban them, and replace them with reusable bags. Attention to the problem over recent years has led to a reduction to 14 billion bags, from a high of 21 billion in 2005.
Last week, a new version of a bag-banning bill reached the California Senate. This was the third time the issue came up. Once again, it fell short, though this time by only 3 votes. Opponents contended that the bill would have eliminated jobs in plastics manufacturing. Proponents saw those jobs shifting to reusable bags since the overall need for bags would not go away. As we reported earlier, many retailers are voluntarily going the route of reusable bags, seeing them as an economical advertising opportunity, along with enhancing their image as a ecologically responsible business.