Promotional Products Industry: Balancing Risk and Reward
After Labor Day, I'm looking forward to spending some time with the Ohio Promotional Professionals Association at their "Promotions At the Bay" event, at which I'll be speaking to a group of both suppliers and distributors. In preparation, I've been doing some research on recent Consumer Product Safety Commission fines for the presentation. The latest update to the CPSIA is anything but light reading, but provides much insight into the agency's current direction.
Many of the folks attending the OPPA event are sales reps who are out in the trenches, actually making the sales of promotional products on a day-to-day basis. But the fact is, not everyone sells to the Fortune 500 end-user every day. Likewise, not every company ships product to California, where it's imperative to understand and deal with Prop. 65 concerns. And, of course, not everyone works for an organization with unlimited resources for monitoring the thousands of regulated chemicals and products, as well as the many changes made by the CPSC and Food and Drug Administration.
So, for me and my team, one of our biggest challenges is the question of how we can help those promotional product reps actually closing the sales and working with limited resources make it part of their decision to deliver safe and socially compliant product? It's all in the balance of risk and reward.
The Basics of the Risk and Reward Equation
When you're evaluating a potential customer relationship or a sale and thinking of it in the terms of risk and reward, simply consider these three questions:
- What does my company expect?
- What does my customer expect?
- What does the state of destination require?
Let's First Consider The Risk
The CPSC lately has turned to widely publicized fines, rather than simply creating new regulations, to gain more attention for product safety responsibilities. Not every situation merits a $3.9 million fine like repeat offender Ross stores, or the $400,000 fine to Kolcraft, or $987,500 to Williams-Sonoma.
Jeff is executive director of the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA). Prior to that, he was responsible for developing safe and compliant brand merchandise for Michelin. He has worked with brands in publishing, consumer products, broadcasting and film for over 30 years. Follow Jeff on Twitter, and QCA on Facebook.