Who in the World is Ned Ludd?
MAN OR MYTH, fact or fiction, Ned Ludd is oft-cited as the inspiration for the Luddite movement of early 19th century England. A supposed simpleton, Ludd was fabled to have destroyed two automated looms, epitomizing and inspiring the coming Luddite revolt against the machinery of the industrial revolution. The Luddites believed technological advances hurt their livelihood—as automated machines required fewer artisans—and rallied to slow their progress, smashing equipment in the name of the working man. Centuries later, the Luddite movement survives, often referred to as neo-Luddites, who rally against computers, cell phones and other gadgets that can be considered the automated loom of the 21st century. More commonly, the term is applied in a self-deprecating manner to someone behind the times or who is more passively resistant to adopting new technologies. It’s safe to say the promotional products industry still has its share of Luddites, but it’s a view that is harder and harder to hold onto while remaining profitable.
For the promotional products distributor, technology is infused in almost every promotion and sales pitch, from new printing processes and embroidery improvements to online ordering and advanced product searches.
But with a big picture so big, it is perhaps best that technology be addressed in the most basic area of interest—products. There are a
plethora of electronics available for distributors. Wireless devices, iPods and flash drives, to name a few, now all commonly find themselves locked-and-logoed.
According to Shannon Malaspina, senior merchandising manager at Kensington, Pennsylvania-based Leed’s, “Technology is past the early adoption stage and is mainstream these days.” A fact easy to see, if one looks at the new product lines from any of the leading supplier companies. Luckily for the ad specialty market, the Luddite model does not apply. Advances in technology don’t necessarily mean distributors and suppliers of items such as stress balls and lanyards should worry. The need for these items remains high, even as the products themselves adapt with the times. Malaspina continued, “Items across all categories will have even more technology