Tariffs? What Tariffs?

TOD40D_Blue_5723Since July, tariffs have been imposed on nearly half of the Chinese goods imported to the US.  Those tariffs – which is essentially a tax on an imported good – can either be absorbed by the importer or passed on to the buyer through price increases.

For the most part, the impact of these tariffs on the promotional products industry won’t be felt until 2019, but why wait?   There are many high-quality options for USA-made promotional products, and none of them will be subject to tariffs.

  • Drinkware:  Cups, mugs, and tumblers are all available in various colors and shapes to help keep your customer hydrated.
  • Tote Bags, Aprons, Tablecloths:  Create a custom bag with one-of-a-kind features; trade show table covering with enhanced graphics; or colorful apron for staff or customer gift.
  • Socks:  Exploding in popularity and available with low minimums and endless customization options.
  • Plastics:  Bag tags, cell phone holders, ice scrapers and clipboards are a few of the many plastic promotional items that remain popular giveaways at an affordable price.
  • Paper Products:  Notepads, calendars, sticky notes and journals are all made in the USA and are among the most popular giveaways for home, travel and office.
  • Leather Goods:  From key tags to high-end luggage, every customer appreciates the quality of genuine leather and the appeal of American craftsmanship.
  • Caps and Hats:  Many US manufacturers offer ball caps and knit beanies, which are especially good for inventory programs that want a unique product but can’t afford long lead times.
  • T-Shirts:  Short sleeve and long sleeve tees have been made in the USA for many years, but with the increased attention on this category, there are more choices and better price points.

There are many reasons, other than avoiding tariffs, to consider buying USA-made goods for your next promotion.  Those reasons include supporting American jobs, reducing carbon footprint, and endorsing the superior human rights environment of the American worker.  When you add it all up, a USA-made product with your corporate logo sends the right message to your customer without blowing the department budget.


The Story Behind The Product

8710cotton_plantWhen considering product choices for corporate branding, the trend is as much about the story behind the product, as the product itself.  Consumers are questioning if they are manufactured in a responsible way, can they be recycled, is it USA made.

From cotton apparel to electronics, whatever brands do to embrace the consumers growing demand for more information on the products they receive, will help build brand loyalty.   It is more important than ever for corporate buyers to consider products that will engage their customers with things to think about and stories that will inspire them.

One of my favorite stories comes from the USA manufacturer of casual cotton clothing, American Apparel.   Founded in 1989, with manufacturing based in Los Angeles, it is one of the few clothing companies exporting USA made goods.  To its credit, it promotes labor policies that excludes use of clothing manufactured in sweatshops, and with the current worldwide attention on the horrors of the Bangladesh clothing factories, this story is one that will resound with every person who receives that branded t-shirt.

Another example of a product supplier with a story worth telling is Gary Line, a manufacturer of plastic molded products such as bike bottles, stadium cups and ice scrapers.  Since the 1960’s, long before recycled products became such an industry trend, they used trimmings and rejects from their molding department to produce recycled products.  Today, using both their own waste and other post-consumer recycled plastics in their USA manufacturing process, Gary Line can offer products that support a cleaner environment and a facility that fosters the call for more USA made merchandise.

These stories, and all the subtle facts behind the other branded products that are distributed to increase brand awareness, could be just the thing that differentiates your t-shirt or bike bottle from the dozens of other logo products every consumer receives.  Your ability to get people thinking about more than just the giveaway, will also make your brand more interesting.  Next time you’re in the market for promotional merchandise, ask about the story behind the product!