Play It Safe
Accidents happen. In fact, a lot of accidents happen. The Centers for Disease Control reported that the number of medically attended injury and poisoning episodes in the noninstitutionalized population is estimated at 33.3 million annually. Those 33.3 million boo-boos require many bandages, balms and preventative safety products. While no one wants to capitalize off of the ill-begotten luck of others, the numbers prove that safety is a necessity.
If you can remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs from your freshman psych 101 class, safety—security of body, employment, health, family and property—is second just above breathing. "These products ... offer a sense of security," said Dan Norris, president of Starline USA, Grand Island, New York. Security is a psychological and physiological necessity, and those needs and the items that bring them will remain strong.
Still not sold? There are numerous organizations, from OSHA to ANSI, dedicated to ensuring the safety of both individuals and items in the workforce. Compliance to these regulations is often mandatory, and employers are always looking for the best way to meet these demands. According to Kevin Xiao, vice president of Atteff International, Ontario, Calif., "As long as businesses are still running, the demands for safety products will still be strong."
In other words: this market is secure. If you're looking for solid sales in 2010, this may just be the safest bet.
A Strong Foundation
Unlike many other product categories, safety and first-aid items haven't seen sales declines corresponding with the recession. "Starline found the opposite," according to Norris, and both he and Xiao reporting strong sales over the past year. A central reason for this is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), "[The] U.S. government's economic stimulus plan [will] especially create more infrastructure projects like construction, utility and transportation around the country, [so] the demand for safety products will inevitably increase," noted Xiao. "Distributors are more likely to get more and bigger projects, and suppliers like us will prepare for giving our best support in terms of inventory, product quality and on-time delivery."
With government investments creating new jobs and expanding existing ones, safety products will continue to be popular in a multitude of sectors. While industries with hazardous work environments are the most obvious avenue for safety products, their uses go well beyond such arenas. "The overall market for safety products is very broad and deep. That gives this promotional market niche great potential to grow," Xiao said. "Our gloves, safety vests and safety glasses were sold by our clients to banks, insurance companies, government departments, high-tech companies, labs, charity groups, military and so on."
If you are wondering what products will be in the highest demand, look toward protective core offerings like gloves, safety apparel and safety glasses, as well as emergency and rescue items like flashlights, emergency lights, rescue knives, first-aid kits and automotive emergency kits. The key to these items is utility. "The functionality of the product is important. Having a product with multiple features is important," explained Norris.
Xiao affirmed this, adding, "Products that are functional, practical, give good exposure and great value are always popular in the market." Thanks to this functionality and reliability, you can be sure your future sales are also safe. "[Safety items] are more of year-round item," Xiao continued. "After a distributor gets an initial order from an end-user, as long as they are satisfied with the products and services, the chance of getting a re-order is very high."