By Wayne Vaughan
A recent study found that promotional products are the most high-impact, cost-effective advertising medium available to organizations. According to the research, nearly half of promotional product recipients (42%) have a more favorable opinion of an advertiser if the product they receive is environmentally friendly.
If end-users appreciate the importance of eco-conscious materials and suppliers recognize their need within the industry, why aren’t more organizations capitalizing on this enthusiasm for sustainably sourced products?
The answer might be as simple as acknowledging that organizations are unaware of the availability of such products. Even though the industry has been trending towards eco-friendly products for several years with a broader selection becoming available at an accelerated pace and with price points more in line with traditional products, our clients have not been requesting them. As an industry, it is incumbent upon us to partner with clients and educate them on the availability and affordability of sustainable products in the industry and their potential uses in executing branding strategy. As a trusted partner to our clients, sustainable products have become a normal inclusion in our solution offerings. These suggestions and conversations have resulted in a lot of responses similar to, “Oh wow, I didn’t know that was a possibility” and further pursuit of a green approach.
Sustainable products have not always been in vogue in the industry though. In 2018 Elizabeth Segran of Fast Company penned an article that illuminated the negative ramifications of reckless product sourcing and production. Commonsku, a major player in the promotional product industry issued a response that was a brave admission to parts of Segran’s article and a fair critique to other elements:
“What Elizabeth’s research didn’t uncover was that there are contrarians (a host of them) who are driving a revolution in this business. People like Fairware who are passionate about sustainability and John Borg with ecoimprints. And brilliant companies who design beautiful, functional products for their clients every day like Brand+Aid, TwelveNYC, Juice Marketing, Axis Promotions, Anthem Branding(and on and on and on).
What Elizabeth’s research also didn’t reveal was the strides taken by many manufacturers (just one of many is Redwood Classics) to become more sustainable, and there’s even a certification arm within the industry (Quality Certification Alliance) that promotes product safety, social responsibility, supply chain security, and environmental impact”
This response earned praise from those around the industry and even Elizabeth herself, who then agreed to participate in Commonsku’s podcast to discuss the impact of promotional products on sustainability, the need for transparency within the supply chain, and how this directly affects consumers.
The importance of sustainability has reached lawmakers as well. Governor Northam issued Executive Order 77 earlier this year, which requires public agencies and institutions of the Commonwealth of Virginia to immediately discontinue buying, selling or distributing specific single use plastic items and over the next four years additionally reduce the purchase and usage of many other single use plastics. We understand and appreciate this urgency and have already begun shifting our model to facilitate these changes.
TK Promotions remains committed to providing sustainable solutions to our clients and have green alternatives for many of our most popular product lines. Visit our sustainability shop to learn more.