THE BRANDING OF AN INDUSTRY
THE PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS industry is an evolving one. Case in point: a little over five years ago when this writer first came aboard the Promo Marketing (formerly Promotional Marketing) ship, there was little, if any, talk of the environment and what the industry could do to preserve it. However, within the past two years alone, it seems the entire industry has gone “green,” with both suppliers and distributors heralding their environmentally responsible business practices and industry publications dedicating entire issues to the topic.
Even with the widespread attention
environmental safety has received, there are other notable topics brewing in the industry these days. In-the-know promotional products professionals are likely to be aware of a growing trend toward popular retail brands offering their products through reputable industry suppliers—a move
that some suppliers say is the wave of
For example, famed clothing retailer
Tommy Hilfiger sells its trademark sportswear line through several wholesale
suppliers, including Atlantic Coast
Cotton, Bodek and Rhodes, Heritage Sportswear and River’s End Trading.
Similarly, the Gap, Old Navy and Banana
Republic brands are exclusively sold through Dallas-based supplier Staton
Corporate & Casual.
However, with alliances like these being made with the rivaled retail sector, it begs the question: Is the promotional products industry becoming too brand-focused and not relying on its own merit as an industry? Is it losing its identity?
Jeff Brown, vice president of product development and marketing at Leed’s, New Kensington, Pa., doesn’t think so. Rather, he said the inclusion of brands in the industry strengthens supplier credibility. “Brands by definition have a strong reputation in the end-user’s mind,” he said. “And being able to take a strong brand profile or brand equity and bring it into the industry, provides a high degree of quality.”
Lindsay Hoylman, marketing specialist at Leed’s, agreed with her colleague, stating retail brand inclusion nullifies a long-
standing stigma that is often associated with promotional products. “Outside of the industry, some people only associate inexpensive giveaways with the promotional product
industry,” she said. “By bringing in
recognizable brands, it legitimizes what we do … and says, ‘hey we are more than that.’”