Promotional Products Industry Sales Rebound, Up 3.2% in 2003

March 31, 2004, Trevose, PA – The Advertising Specialty Institute, the most authoritative source of sales data and product information in the promotional products industry, said today that its exclusive analysis of sales trends indicates that industry sales rose 3.2% in 2003 to $16.1 billion, a comparatively strong rebound from the prior year.

Promotional products are an important segment of marketing spending among businesses, government agencies and organizations of all sizes. Promotional products include any of 750,000 items that are typically imprinted with a company or brand logo. These items are then distributed free as part of B2B or consumer advertising promotions, or to motivate or recognize achievement of corporate or personal milestones or goals.

Sales in 2003 of $16.1 billion are just under the record high of $16.5 billion in 2001. Total sales in recent years are:

2003 : $16.1 B
2002 : $15.6 B
2001 : $16.5 B
2000 : $16.0 B
1999 : $14.9 B

“Sales of promotional products have now fully rebounded to their 2000 level, and are more than $1 billion above 1999,” says Timothy M. Andrews, ASI president. “That’s in sharp contrast to B2B advertising, which remains down 33% from 2000. The promotional products industry is now twice as large as the B2B trade publishing industry.” (See accompanying chart.)

ASI, the largest member organization in the promotional products industry, compiles sales information annually from its members who sell promotional products that are used as part of the buyers’ overall marketing mix.

ASI’s sales report is considered the most authoritative in the promotional products industry because about 85% of industry distributors are members of ASI, representing by far the largest body of industry players in the nation.

In addition to total growth in 2003, ASI member distributors also reported a strong fourth quarter, historically a reliable predictor of future sales growth. The fourth quarter typically represents about 40% of distributor product sales, and tends to foreshadow business growth for the coming year.

“While there is no guarantee of achieving sustainable growth, several decades of experience have taught us to trust the early indicators provided by industry insiders,” says Larry Basinait, ASI market research manager.

To derive its annual sales estimate, ASI conducts a census of its nearly 18,000 distributor members, collecting a range of data, including each members’ total promotional products sales. These figures are aggregated to form a total ASI member estimate. ASI statistically applies this data to the small number of industry distributors who are not yet members of ASI, then combines the results to calculate the total distributor sales for the year.

ASI researchers also compare this sales total to preliminary results from the more comprehensive annual “State of the Industry” study, which is published in a special July bonus issue of The Counselor, the industry’s leading news and analysis magazine.

Advertising Specialty Institute is the largest media organization serving the promotional products industry, with a total membership of 20,000 distributors (sellers) and suppliers (manufacturers) of promotional products. Suppliers use ASI print and electronic resources to promote their products to more than 17,000 ASI distributors. Distributors use ASI print and electronic resources, which contain more than 650,000 promotional products, to locate supplier products and to promote their services to buyers of promotional products. ASI was founded in 1950 and employs a staff of 500. The company offers catalogs, informational directories, newsletters, magazines, Web sites and databases, and provides a variety of interactive business, marketing and selling tools.

Promotional Products Revenue vs. B2B Trade Ad Revenue

Sources: Advertising Specialty Institute The Counselor State of the Industry;American Business Media