New Jersey Just Became a Potential Promo Sales Hot Spot This Week
Ah, New Jersey. The pride of Bruce Springsteen and all of its other children, and the butt of many a joke from Philly and New York. The Garden State is so many things to so many people, and now it might just be the focus of promotional products distributors.
That is, if they’re paying attention.
There have been two major legislative decisions this week in Jersey, both of which could be good for promo sales. Yesterday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a ban on single-use plastic bags, paper bags, plastic straws and other plastic packaging. And the state voted on Tuesday to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.
Between environmental alternatives to single use plastic and the booming cannabis market in the U.S., New Jersey just found itself open to a ton of potential promotional business.
Let’s start with the plastics, though.
New Jersey’s ban on single-use plastics (and even paper) is the strictest legislation on single-use plastics in the U.S. New Jersey being a coastal state, the environmental effects of pollution are plainly visible.
“Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers, and oceans,” Murphy said in statement to NJ.com. “With today’s historic bill signing, we are addressing the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations.”
— The Hill (@thehill) November 5, 2020
The law prohibits food service businesses, convenience stores, food trucks, movie theaters and grocery stores larger than 2,500 sq. ft. from giving out single-use bags and polystyrene food containers. Grocery stores also can’t even give out paper bags, meaning tote bags are going to be all the more vital for New Jersey shoppers.
There are exceptions to this rule, such as bags wrapping raw meat, plastic butcher trays, produce bags, newspaper bags, bags carrying prescription drugs, and bags that hold fish and insects from pet stores.
The bag and packaging law will take effect in May 2022, but the part of the legislation that prohibits food service businesses from handing out plastic straws (unless specifically requested by a customer) will start next November.
Interestingly, New Jersey is also the only state to ban paper bags, which it says it is doing to offset the environmental impact of bag manufacturing and limit greenhouse gas emissions. This decision has been met with criticism from industry groups like the American Forest and Paper Association, but environmental workers have hailed it as a success.
“From our cities to our shores, single-use plastic bags unnecessarily litter New Jersey’s most treasured spaces and pollute our ecosystem,” Catherine McCabe, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which will oversee the regulations, told NJ.com. “By banning single-use plastic bags, Gov. Murphy and our legislature continue to make New Jersey a national leader in environmental protection, and the DEP stands ready to implement these new measures and educate the public.”
New Jersey is also allocating $500,000 annually to fund a public education campaign for three years and provide free reusable bags. NJ State Sen. Bob Smith anticipates that the state will hand out around 2 million bags through this program alone.
What this means is that, suddenly, every New Jersey shopper (meaning almost every New Jersey resident) is going to need a reusable bag. Grocery stores will want them to sell or give away as promotions. Restaurants will look to put their logo on them and sell as merchandise (as so many restaurants did to survive the early days of the pandemic and subsequent shutdown).
A clearer hole in the market would be hard to find.
Now, for the legal cannabis.
This one pretty much speaks for itself, too. As recreational cannabis becomes legal in more and more states in the U.S., dispensaries have been constant sources of business for promotional products distributors. It might’ve been a novelty a couple of years ago to see labels and other branded products geared specifically toward cannabis culture at a promo trade show, but now it’s ubiquitous. It's been a lifeline for some promotional companies during the pandemic.
As New Jersey eventually becomes flooded with new dispensary businesses, they are going to be clamoring for products to market and package their goods, and also spread the word to stand out from what will no doubt be stiff competition. New Jersey is home to a whole coast of resort towns, including Atlantic City that could be potential hot-spots for these businesses. That doesn’t even bring into account the college towns, and the across-the-bridge proximity to New York and Philly.
New Jersey approved a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for adult use on Tuesday by a ratio of greater than 2 to 1, @AP reports.
With the historic vote, New Jersey became the first state in the Mid-Atlantic region to adopt legal cannabis.https://t.co/IRKG8baYd1
— The Philadelphia Inquirer (@PhillyInquirer) November 4, 2020
Using Colorado as a model here: At of the beginning of this year, there were 572 retail cannabis dispensaries and 438 licensed medical marijuana stores. Colorado’s population is about 5.76 million. New Jersey’s is 8.88 million. Obviously, it might not be congruent and completely relative to population, and real estate availability is a factor. But it still points to a market that’s going to explode.
So, actually, maybe there is a clearer market vacuum ready to be filled than New Jersey’s need for reusable and environmentally friendly bags and packaging. Oh, and cannabis businesses are going to need those things, too.
It’s rare to see the stars align so much, but in one single week, New Jersey has created so much promise and opportunity for promo sales.
It could be a gold rush. It’s just on the East Coast this time.