Our Annual Industry Exam – No Gloves!

Friday August 25, 2017 | Filed under:

ASI is the best in the business on a number of counts (our ESP® business platform, shows and events, education – I could go on!), but we really outdo ourselves each summer with Counselor® magazine’s annual “State of the Industry” report. 

Our industry check-up packs a ton of info into easy-to-read stories designed to help companies plan strategically for the future, grow their business, streamline operations and tap new and emerging markets. There are major changes afoot in the world and our industry and it behooves us all to stay ahead of the curve. For instance:

Half of the top 10 largest distributors in the $23 billion promotional products industry are now actively leveraging e-commerce for business, with an increasing number of clients expected to buy logoed items with a click instead of a call.

That stat alone should make all of us sit up and take notice.

As Counselor editor-in-chief Dave Vagnoni (@VagnoniASI) explains, “To be successful, brands of all types need to be where their customers are – and today, they’re no doubt on digital platform. Luckily, ASI’s data shows industry companies are serious about investing in technology, have a stronger understanding of customer buying habits and are offering more revenue-generating services to supplement advertising campaigns – all positive signs that they’re motivated to enter a new and better age of selling.”

The report is divided into 10 topical sections, exploring current business trends like mobile-friendly websites, prospecting and the need for speed.

The 142-page issue offers winning tips, tactics and growth strategies along with profiles and videos of the 2017 Counselor Award winners – including Boundless CEO Henrik Johansson as Person of the Year and PFConcept CEO Ralf Oster as International Person of the Year, as well as the exclusive revenue ranking of the top 40 distributor and supplier companies.

In 2016, the $550.2 million revenue spread between the first and last distributor company on the annual top 40 list represents the largest difference ever. Among suppliers, alphabroder (asi/34063) was number one, setting another industry record with $1.14 billion in North American sales.

As everyone knows, I’m a big proponent of more diversity in our industry, which should better reflect the world at large. So this fact is encouraging – although not quite good enough: Of the top 40 suppliers, five are headed by female chief executives, with four women heading top 40 distributor companies.

Other highlights from Counselor’s 2017 survey include:

  • More Suppliers, Greater Selection. Nearly half of all distributors (48%) say they expect to use more suppliers in 2017. As more high-end products like the Apple Watch and Amazon Echo enter the promo market, distributors can capitalize on custom campaigns and incentive programs.
  • Mobilizing for Success. 65% of distributors now have mobile-friendly sites, an 8% increase compared to 2015.
  • Big Data? Meh. Fewer distributors used data to analyze customer patterns in 2016. Only 44% of distributors tracked individual client profitability last year – a five-year low – and just 21% of distributors tracked successful client promotions and calculated ROI.
  • Cautious Optimism. Distributors commonly used words like good, steady and average to describe the state of the promo products industry in 2016.

I encourage everyone to take a break from your beach reading – or your financial reports – and read Counselor’s report. It’s engaging, thoughtful and enlightening. Best of all, it just might help you plan for a brighter financial future.