The sector that will buy the most promotional products in 2024 will be technology. As mobile tech becomes part of every American’s life, it will be the companies in this sector that will do the most marketing over the next 10 years.
The number-one product category in the ad specialty market will still be shirts, but the fastest-growing category will be mobile accessories. That’s the sector that will appeal to the greatest set of buyers.
The most trusted business advisers and consultants won’t be people at all, but rather software and computers. With algorithms, data and analytics, businesses will be able to receive customized advice for big (and small) decisions to run their business, all without dealing with a human.
Customized ads based on everything from your purchasing history to where you plan to go that day will be delivered to every interfaced device – computer, tablet, TV, car, phone, watch, security system, even your T-shirt.
All employees will work from home at least half the week, and many companies will become complete virtual organizations.
Distributors and suppliers will continue the trend of consolidation. The Top 40 distributors, which accounted for 22% of industry revenues in 2013, will represent more than a third of overall sales in 2024.
As first predicted at the ASI Power Summit in September by futurist John Smart, revenues in the ad specialty industry will double between now and 2024, reaching more than $40 billion. As one-to-one marketing becomes more important, companies will increasingly rely on advertising and promotions that interact more closely with their chosen audiences.
Distributors will overwhelmingly move their business to online and mobile. More than half of all the industry’s revenues will be achieved through e-commerce.
3-D hologram samples of products will be able to be “beamed” from suppliers to distributors so they can be shown to end-buyers for their selection approval, thereby cutting down the cost of shipping and production materials of samples being overnighted back and forth.
To cut down on the cost and usage of natural resources like gas and oil, salespeople will travel less and presentations will be done virtually. Millennials and Gen Z after them, who are tomorrow’s buyers, don’t require (or seem to care for/about) in-person meetings.
Where’d That Come From?
Due to the growing buying power of Gen Y and Z – who are more cause-driven and environmentally-conscious – promo products will need to have their sustainability history (where they were made, who made them, what components they’re made of) available on demand and easily accessible online.
Distributor and supplier companies will continue to merge, breaking down some of the traditional business models in the ad specialty market.
Cameras on High
Drones will be commonplace at trade shows. Attendees will use them to take pictures of products, record virtual demonstrations and even curate supplier contact information. Plus, these pictures and videos can be immediately sent to clients as virtual presentations.
Overnight and two-day delivery will be standard on most non-custom orders. Some suppliers will have already tested same-day delivery to select locations.
Suppliers and distributors will be using robots to market and sell their products. Robots will be standard in showrooms to demo items and walk prospects through product possibilities.
All Things Connected
The majority of promotional products will be able to connect with mobile devices. There will be features on pens, T-shirts, mugs and bags that digitally allow users to track real-time functionality.
3-D printers will allow companies the ability to print products just about anywhere. Yes, individuals could print items at home, but the real revolution will come from suppliers employing 3-D printers in multiple locations to increase speed of order turnaround.
Following immigration reform, the Hispanic population in the U.S. will rise 5%-7% each year. To meet demand from this growing market, industry companies will train salespeople and customer service reps to speak fluent Spanish.
Industry companies will increasingly be turning to freelance and contract workers for a variety of tasks they never imagined. Many marketers, salespeople, finance staffers, human resource executives, and chief executives will be hired on a contract basis, rather than full-time.
The use of video cameras will increase dramatically (businesses, schools, cars, sports equipment and even on the athletes themselves.) This will have greater implications on behavior across all aspects of society.
Businesses will take stronger stances on social issues. There will be apps that detail every cause a business is dedicated to. Many will want to attract likeminded citizens, and clients will want to know if a business supports unions or if they espouse a religious or environmental cause, for example.
Made in USA
Rising labor costs in China will shift more manufacturing to the U.S. and Latin America. In 10 years, 25% of all ad specialties will be made in the USA.
Alibaba will fail to overtake Amazon in the consumer segment and will focus on the U.S. B2B market. The Chinese firm will partner with or acquire several suppliers and distributors, generating $500 million in annual ad specialty sales.
Distributors will pay suppliers completely through electronic means, and clients will remit invoices in the same manner. No checks will change hands anymore.