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Covid-19 Threat Has Mixed Affect on Merchandise, Gift Cards

While travel suppliers and event-gifting people endure a wave of cancellations that some fear could last from three to six months, merchandise gift and reward suppliers face a different challenge: group travel cancellations create opportunities for merchandise, gift cards, or individual travel, so the problem right now is supply for some brand name and unbranded products sourced in Asia. 
 
Guy Achtzehn, President of the Marketing and Sales Group, says that many suppliers whose products are imported from China or from Asia in general are facing supply shortages, and that includes brands. He recommends that the best sources right now are brands made in the USA. He says the best bet are US brands, such as Coleman, and those that stock very deep, such as Contigo, Bulova, and Fuji, with whom his company works. Go to the Brand Media Coalition at BrandMediaCoalition.com to access the leading master fulfillment companies who can tell you which brands come from USA sources and are available in stock.” 
 
Observes Mark Wunderlich, President of IncentiveSource, a leading national representative based in St. Louis, “Obviously anyone in the travel sector is experiencing real problems, but for our clients in the standard loyalty, incentive, and rewards programs, the immediate problem in some cases is supply of desirable brands that come from China or from Asia in general. Winners of some incentive travel programs are now being offered brands or gift certificates instead of the trip. We are also seeing a pick-up in demand for gifts being sent to employees newly working at home to bolster spirits during what is, everyone hopes, a relatively short but painful period.” 
 
The merchandise companies “getting hurt the most in brands are those who have focused on event boutique programs,” says Achtzehn. “Their fortunes this year are based on whether the program is canceled or postponed, as those that get cancelled in most cases have to be written off for this year. Those facing cancellations right now are tackling difficult logistics issues.” 

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