According to Nick Sarnadas, event director at Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery, marketing, specifically in a competitive economy, is a key business priority and branded promotional products are a simple, cost-effective way to keep brands top of mind.
The global promotional products industry is doing well, despite an unstable international economic climate, and is said to be growing according to Econo Times, with other industry experts seeing this upward trend continuing until at least 2024.
Through promotional products, advertising and marketing messaging, life cycles can be greatly extended to long after initial exposure. Statistics vary per country but, on average, around 80 per cent of recipients will remember the advertiser after receiving a promotional gift item and approximately 45 per cent of those keep the product for at least 12 months.
Does this positive market growth, however, extend to South Africa, where according to Statistics South Africa, we have just narrowly dodged a recession?
SA resellers weigh in
Rainer Schulz of Thistle Promotions believes that, without supporting research on the South African promo product market, it is difficult to make a definitive statement on how the sector has fared recently. ‘Over the past year, we’ve seen contrasting variances in the South African promotional goods sector – some companies have drastically cut spending, forgoing marketing investment in lieu of channelling funds into staff retention, while others have started spending on promotional goods for the very first time in an attempt to grow brand awareness and market share by channelling funds into new areas.’
This sentiment is corroborated by another local promotional products reseller, namely David Kraukamp of Promo One, who explains that it has been a fairly tough year for the market, much like most other sectors in South Africa currently. ‘Unfortunately, many businesses are redirecting marketing spend, as it’s often the easiest place to cut budget. However, there is clearly still value in corporate gifts and promo items, particularly as we head into the festive season, as companies in general do still want to provide some sort of item to their customers, even if it is at a lower price point.’
Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) released 2018 global industry research that shows interesting results, especially when it comes to the five Rs of promotional products, namely: reach, reaction, recall, resonance and repeated exposure:
· Reach – 89% of consumers have received a promotional product in the last six months.
· Reaction – 79% of these actually researched the brand and 83% said they would be more likely to do business with the brand after receipt of the item.
· Recall – 90% of respondents recall the branding, 80% recall the message and 70% recall the call to action.
· Resonance – 82% recorded a more favourable impression of the brand after receiving a promotional product.
· Repeated exposure – 81% say they keep their product for more than a year.
These figures reinforce the fact that even in a difficult environment, with budgets tighter than ever and increased pressure to prove value for marketing spend, branded merchandise can be a powerful tool.
Where does local demand lie?
Schulz shared that demand in South Africa has grown for practical products with a specific everyday use, such as notebooks, caps, and shopping bags (particularly important with growing awareness around eradicating the single-use plastic bag), stating that drinkware is currently very popular but the technology side, which saw a boom several years ago (with power banks being especially popular) is on the wane. Kraukamp agreed, adding that companies are taking more of an old-school approach again, looking for products that will stay within eye-line, like desktop items and wall clocks.
‘Environmentally friendly gifts are on the upward trajectory, as businesses are becoming more aware of being socially and environmentally conscious, with a focus on the likes of reusable water bottles (glass or aluminium and even BPA-free plastic),’ Kraukamp added.
The benefits inherent to promotional products are obvious, and they remain an important part of holistic marketing campaigns. This is a fast-paced sector, with thousands of options available, and a fairly complex value chain for the local reseller.