Who Cares If You Have A Compliance Program?
Do you have a compliance program? Does anyone care if you do? Absolutely. End-buyers that have brands to protect care—a lot. Distributors care if their end-buyer customers care. Suppliers that have distributors who sell to these end—buyers also care. It's unfortunate, but if you do not have an audience (i.e., demand) for product safety and compliance, the reality is you are not paying much, if any, attention to the topics.
Whether your company cares or not, the promotional products industry is becoming tiered into two distinct groups:
- The companies that are capable of selling to Corporate America
- The companies that want to sell to Corporate America but are incapable of meeting their compliance needs
Corporate America is driving the demand for comprehensive compliance programs. They care. In fact, they care enough to make compliance programs a big part of their vendor relationship and purchasing decisions through RFP's, programs and projects. They care enough to vet their supply chains with proactive factory visits and audits. Many of them care enough to have expensive compliance departments to oversee the products that carry their brand name. None of these companies go to extremes because they want to; they do it because they have brands that will suffer greatly from being associated with unsafe or non-compliant products.
Corporate America cares because they are the companies that are first in line for product recalls—and the resulting front-page news articles. These companies have too much invested in their brands to risk having this brand equity go down the drain via a highly publicized recall of an unsafe promotional product. While Marge's Dry Cleaner having 28 stress balls recalled isn't front-page news, you certainly will read about Fortune 1000 companies with 12 million glasses or 800,000 teddy bears recalled. This makes headlines—every time.
I was recently in our local drug store and was surprised to see Children's Tylenol back on the shelves. I remember when this product recall hit the headlines last year. The story was impossible to miss; it was on every channel and at the top of every newspaper for a week. Evidently I missed the announcement that the recall was over, if there even was one. But isn't that the way it works? Bad news sells; good news goes unnoticed.