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Insight: Promotional Distributors Continue to Overlook the Potential of Brands and Incentives

ChartThis recent outlook report published by the Promotional Products Association International suggests that this industry continues to overlook the enormous opportunity presented by the incentive and retail brand gifting business.
By Bruce Bolger

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The IRR Market Addresses Key Market Opportunities: Sustainability, Technology, and E-Commerce
The Opportunity to Address an Untapped Market
Hired at different times in my career to help educate promotional distributions on the incentive, recognition, and retail brand gifting marketplace, this recent Promotional Products Association outlook report published in PPB (Promotional Products Business) indicates that much work remains to convince distributors of the enormous potential role they can play in creating new value for clients.
The report makes almost no mention of the opportunities for incentives, recognition, loyalty, or retail brand gifting, other than pointing out all the reasons distributors indeed should be adding these services to their offerings.

The IRR Market Addresses Key Market Opportunities: Sustainability, Technology, and E-Commerce

Industry professionals in the report cite five key areas that represent opportunities for the industry to grow, improve or simply seize upon a horizon of new possibilities, three of which are directly related to the IRR (Incentive, Rewards, and Recognition) market and related brand gifting business, and yet makes little mention of the $176 billion field.
  • 39% of the expert panel says sustainable and eco-friendly products are a key opportunity and yet...
  • Only 13% see retail brands as an opportunity, even though retail brands are by their very nature more sustainable because recipients are far more likely to hold on to them.
  • 28% says advancements in technology and 17% say e-commerce and online marketing are big opportunities but there is no mention of incentive, recognition or retail brand gifting technology.

The Opportunity to Address an Untapped Market

While US organizations of all sizes and types face unprecedented employee and customer retention and recruitment challenges, there are no more than about 80 incentive or recognition companies in the US with any expertise in designing and implementing effective engagement programs. In the meantime, there are over 200,000 companies (not to mention tens of thousands of non-governmental organizations) with over $10 million in annual turnover—certainly large enough to benefit from a formal process to engage employees, customers, distribution partners, and other stakeholders with incentive, recognition, or gifting programs.
Several dozen brands and master fulfillment companies exhibit at the annual PPAI annual summit and convention coming up Jan. 14-16 in Las Vegas, and basic education on the field is always provided. But whatever is being done is not enough if the industry’s leading association and media platform doesn’t even include the field among its key opportunities.
The Enterprise Engagement Alliance’s Brand Media Coalition will reach out to leaders in the promotional products space to raise awareness about this issue.

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