Product Safety: Are We Missing The Point?
I continue to read with interest the many articles and ongoing debate on the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. Not only has Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Nancy Nord shared her thoughts about a recent Wall Street Journal article, but consumers are also weighing in with articles such as this one by Ken Bingenheimer that addresses how the CPSIA has negatively impacted many different product markets.
There is little question that the CPSIA was poorly defined, has had many unintended consequence and has been a burden on small business. Attempting to hit undefined and moving targets has been challenging and expensive for companies trying to comply. Any clarity in definitions, standards and timelines would be most welcome by all. However, in all of the debate and conjecture, one thing remains clear: the promotional products industry continues to miss the point on product safety.
While some may wish it were so, product safety is not going away. Why? Because Fortune 1000 companies demand safe and compliant products. Whether specifically purchasing promotional products or generally buying other types of marketing items, Fortune 1000 customers expect their vendor partners to enhance and protect their brands—not put them at risk.
And here's where the promotional products industry is missing the point: Product safety is an opportunity. It gives us a platform to grow our value proposition, proactively meet the demands of the Fortune 1000 and combat the "trinkets-and-trash" reputation by understanding what is required and better providing these solutions to all end buyer customers.
The news of a country-wide product recall from a Fortune 1000 company may be juicy front-page fodder, but it sends shivers down the backs of marketing and procurement executives. The seemingly never-ending parade of product recalls is certainly testing the axiom that there is no such thing as bad press. Our customers have so many choices on how to spend their marketing and branding dollars; why would they continue to do business with an industry containing so many underdeveloped supply chains that every purchase puts them at risk of being the next front-page headline?