North American sales up 4.7%, breaking record for 10th consecutive year
TREVOSE, PA – February 4, 2020 – The Advertising Specialty Institute® (ASI) today announced North American promotional products distributors increased sales to a record $25.8 billion in 2019, up 4.7% from 2018 and breaking a distributor sales record for the 10th consecutive year.
The growth was fueled by sales of branded items like T-shirts, caps and pens that companies typically give away to promote their business, brand or event, or to thank employees or clients. ASI’s most recent Global Ad Impressions Study on return on investment (ROI) shows promotional products consistently rank among the most influential, enduring and cost-effective advertising mediums available.
“Distributors in the promo industry are living proof of the persistent power of promo products, beating back negative economic forces like tariffs, trade wars and political unrest to post record sales,” said Timothy M. Andrews, president and chief executive officer of ASI, the largest membership organization in the promotional industry, with a network of over 25,000 distributors and suppliers throughout North America. “No matter what lies ahead, I’m confident the biggest brands in America will continue to invest their marketing dollars in the most affordable, high-impact, recession-resistant advertising medium around.”
In 2019, 47% of distributors reported that their annual sales increased, with 36% saying sales stayed the same. Firms with more than $1 million in annual revenue generated the greatest growth, increasing sales 6.1% on average. Mid-sized distributors – those with $250,001 to $1 million in annual revenue – increased sales an average of 3.5%. Distributors with yearly revenue of $250,000 or less reported an average 3.2% year-on-year gain.
As for the economic outlook for 2020, distributors consistently used words like “hopeful,” “optimistic” and “growth” when asked for their viewpoint on future sales, according to Nathaniel Kucsma, ASI’s executive director of research and corporate marketing. “Demand for promo products continues to outpace the overall economic growth rate, showing no signs of weakness,” said Kucsma.
ASI’s research shows 2019’s fourth quarter saw the greatest year-over-year growth of any quarter in 2019. Distributors’ collective sales were 5% better than in 2018’s Q4. In 2019’s final quarter, 46% of distributors reported a sales rise, while 33% said revenue was steady with the prior year.
Seattle, WA-based Gifts by Design (asi/205947) was among the promo distributorships reporting a strong 2019, enjoying its best year ever, increasing sales by 35% over 2018.
“We had an aggressive marketing plan that resulted in some great new client partnerships, in addition to experiencing organic growth with many of our existing clients,” President Jamie Stone told ASI’s award-winning Counselor® magazine, the voice of the promotional products industry.
At the same time, the Counselor Confidence Index, which measures the financial health and optimism of distributor companies, rose to 112 in the fourth quarter of 2019. The uptick ended a run of four straight quarterly declines for the index.
Top 40 distributor Quality Logo Products (asi/302967), an e-commerce-driven company, reported a 3.5% 2019 revenue rise, with sales hitting approximately $45.6 million. “While sales growth was slightly below the average 5% we have seen in prior years, our profit was up, as many of the improvements and initiatives we put into place in late 2018 came to fruition in 2019,” company president Bret Bonnet told Counselor.
For more information on ASI’s sales reports and research, contact Kucsma at [email protected].
The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI®; asicentral.com) serves a network of 25,000 suppliers, distributors and decorators in the $25.8 billion promotional products industry. ASI’s flagship product, the technology platform ESP®, manages the industry’s entire supply and marketing chain. ASI also produces award-winning digital and print content, live events and educational programs that enable companies in 53 countries to be more efficient, productive and profitable. ASI’s Counselor® magazine provides the most authoritative business content in the industry, and the ASI Certification Program features 500+ live and online education courses for over 40,000 professionals. The company, family-owned and -operated since 1962, is proud to have been consistently ranked among the “Best Places to Work” in Philadelphia and Bucks County, PA.