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Promotional Merchandise for Stand Out Brands

Promotional Product Globalisation with ASI President, Tim Andrews

Posted By: Andy Thorne
Promotional Product Globalisation with ASI President, Tim Andrews

Outstanding Branding’s CEO Sarah Penn was privileged to talk to President of ASI, Tim Andrews, on the impact of globalisation on the promotional merchandise industry this week.

Tim Andrews had earlier given the keynote speech at the British Promotional Merchandise Associaiton (BPMA) Education Day which precedes the industry’s premiere trade show, Merchandise World.  The full video interview can be viewed here  or read the transcript of the interview below.


Sarah Penn: you were invited to give the keynote speech at the BPMA education day yesterday; but what else were you hoping to gain from your trip to the Merchandise World trade show?

Tim Andrews: I really try to travel around Asia once a year to see the shows and what’s going on in Asia; I go to the PSI show in Dusseldorf every year if I can schedule it in; of course our own shows in the United States and then this inaugural event here and I’m really looking for new ideas; new ways of doing business; for new products or products that people are introducing or are excited about and also talking about how is the business changing, how is the industry changing because there is a lot going on in the industry and I want to try and really get a handle on what’s going on in the regions because things start in one place and then creep somewhere else and it’s really unpredictable as to where it starts.  So I just try to keep my eyes and ears open to see what’s happening.

SP: You’ve spent the last couple of days immersed in our UK industry; I wondered what were some of the differences you’ve noticed between the US promotional merchandise industry and the one we have in the UK?

TA: I had a question at the end of the keynote speech yesterday from someone who was talking about the per capita spending on promotional merchandise in the UK and the United States, and in the United States it’s quite a lot more on a per capita basis, and I think that’s an interesting fact.  And we had some conversations to determine what that was about and I think that in the States we really are selling the return on investment on merchandise and comparing it with other alternatives in marketing, whether it’s Yellow Pages or whether it’s billboards or radio or TV or all the other options.  And I think that we’ve been trying to talk over the last couple of days about how distributors in the UK can really be selling the ROI and get a higher per capita spend level on promotional items.

SP: How about similarities, what have you seen that’s similar between the two countries?

TA: I think a couple of similarities, one is I think that there’s a lot of change, I think there’s a lot of people saying we need to become more e-commerce friendly and becoming more responsive and more transparent to our customers so telling them what’s going on with their product, in their order so I think that’s one similarity that we’re really seeing around the world, that e-commerce link and that transparency is really important.  I think secondly it’s an industry filled with entrepreneurial people, many of whom have a small book of business on their own, they love what they do, and they love working alone or with one or two people in their organisation. That’s another similar situation to what we have in the states, we have a lot of smaller distributors doing great business because they’re really focussed on their clients and serving their clients, but they’re not part of a big group.

SP: One of the things we’ve just touched on is globalisation, you’ve mentioned you like to go around the world and find out what’s going on.  I think globalisation is an issue that’s going to impact on many businesses, what do you think the impact is going to be on the promotional merchandise industry?

TA: I think we’re seeing a couple of things.  I think one is that larger clients, the Fortune 2000 type clients, are now looking for a global solution for their merchandising issues.  So when they’re looking at their promotional merchandise program, they’re looking for it to be fulfilled in North America, in the UK, in Europe and in a few different countries that all have their own special ways of doing business, and also in Asia so I think that is a huge trend I think that’s going to be continuing.  I think that’s not only for large companies but also even some smaller companies who also want to have a global presence and want to be in more than one country.
I think also the global sourcing of product, I’m seeing a lot more movement to other countries, so people are experimenting in parts of Africa, in Vietnam, in Cambodia and so it’s not all going to be in the Hong Kong, China area any more, I think we’re going to see a lot more global sourcing.

SP: That sounds like quite a lot of change in the offing and sometimes people can be wary of change; so let’s look at what you think the benefits of globalisation are going to be?

TA: I think it will generate a lot more innovation and product; I think it will speed product introduction.  I was just in Dusseldorf at the PSI show a couple of weeks ago and I saw on several stands there wireless charging mechanisms. You wouldn’t have seen that six months ago because that’s a new trend so I think this global sourcing and this globalisation allows us to move product more quickly – take an idea, implement it in a product and then get it to the marketplace faster than ever, so I think that’s really great.  I also think competition makes everyone better.  So if I have a competitor, or you have a competitor, I think that is great for the end buyer who wants to have these products and services as a great price, well decorated and delivered to them.  So I think competition and innovation are two great outcomes of change and global markets.




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