Fourth Quarter Sales Off 9.7%

Advertising Specialty Industry Sales $15.9 Billion for 2009

TREVOSE, PA – February 19, 2010 – The Advertising Specialty Institute® announced today that fourth quarter 2009 promotional products industry sales were off 9.7%. 

In addition, the Advertising Specialty Institute’s exclusive annual industry sales estimate for 2009 shows that promotional products sales were $15.9 billion, down 19.5% versus 2008.  The annual estimate is adjusted for certain year-end information, including distributors that exited the industry during 2009 and distributors that have not been part of ASI for the last 12 months.  

While sales dropped, quarter-by-quarter declines throughout 2009 have slowed consistently.  Results also indicate that economic turbulence may be easing, with 34% of respondents reporting a year-over-year increase in sales during the fourth quarter.  That is the largest percentage of respondents whose sales were up since the third quarter of 2008. 

Spending on ad specialties for full-year 2009 is estimated to be about double what marketers spent on radio advertising, about 26% larger than Internet advertising, and nearly four times greater than outdoor ads*. 

“The economic climate has been one of the most challenging in our lifetime,” said Timothy M. Andrews, president and chief executive officer of ASI.  “However, I’m more bullish for this year, and 71% of survey respondents told us that they believe sales will increase in 2010.  I agree, and believe that the worst is behind us.  The industry is driving forward, as we head toward a rebound.”  

ASI invests over $1.3 million each year to educate suppliers and distributors on how to market themselves more efficiently, and it also recently announced a $100,000 commitment to increase education initiatives targeting end-buyers.  “Promotional products work and they are a great value among all advertising mediums,” said Andrews.  “Marketers still need them right now.”

An exclusive impressions study from ASI is available that provides ROI figures that prove the value of advertising specialties in marketing campaigns, and an additional study shows that end-buyers say promotional products are the most effective advertising medium next to the Internet.

Reactions from industry distributors show solid plans for gaining market share, accompanied by a general sense that businesses across all industries have reported mixed results recently.

“I think people are saying enough is enough, and they’re willing to do something to change things,” said Marc Belanski, CEO of Counselor Top 40 distributor Evigna (asi/155460).  “In our case, we’re increasing our marketing, both our broad marketing and direct-marketing activities. This is a time to grab market share.  We’ll also be making a big push at ASI San Diego.  We’re sending 25 sales folks out there to attend ASI Education training.”

The ASI Show in San Diego takes place Wednesday, February 24, through Friday, February 26, at the San Diego Convention Center.  It features over 55 education sessions about how distributors and suppliers can build their businesses, in any economic climate.  To register as an exhibitor or as a distributor looking for new products, click here

“These numbers are in line with what I’ve been hearing,” said David Woods, president of Counselor Top 40 distributor Adventures in Advertising (asi/109480).  “The reality is sales were down last year in many industries.  This business, like the economy, is cyclical.  I think many companies are optimistic about 2010.”

“We were fortunate to have a modest increase in sales in the fourth quarter and we plan on carrying that into this year,” said Lee Cochran, president of Counselor Top 40 distributor Newton Manufacturing (asi/283300).  “I do think the industry will come back.  I’m not looking for big increases this year.  It will take a few years to get the numbers all the way back up.”

For additional research from ASI, click here.  The sales report for the first quarter of 2010 will be available in April.

To learn more about sales surveys from ASI, contact Larry Basinait, executive director of research services, at [email protected].

About ASI
The Advertising Specialty Institute is the largest media and marketing organization serving the advertising specialty industry, with a membership of over 26,000 distributor firms (sellers) and supplier firms (manufacturers) of advertising specialties. Supplier firms use ASI print and electronic resources to market products to over 22,000 ASI distributor firms. Distributor firms use ASI print and electronic resources, which contain nearly every product in the industry from more than 3,500 reputable suppliers, to locate supplier firms and to market services to buyers. ASI provides catalogs, information directories, newsletters, magazines, websites and databases, and offers e-commerce, marketing and selling tools. Visit ASI online at and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, the CEO’s blog and the ASI Social Network.

*Figures for advertising spending on Internet, radio and outdoor mediums were based on results reported from TNS Media Intelligence for the first three quarters of 2009 and ASI then extrapolated this data to project full-year spending.

Survey Methodology:  This analysis from ASI is widely-acknowledged as the most accurate and most comprehensive annual industry sales estimate available, derived by a census of total advertising specialties sales from more than 26,000 ASI distributor members.  Distributor members of ASI represent approximately 95 percent of all sales volume in the industry and an estimated valid median dollar value was assigned to the remaining relative five percent that are not members of ASI.