There are three facts to the advertising gifts industry – the supplier, the distributor and the buyer. The supplier makes the products; the distributor distributes them; and the buyer buys them.
The industry as a whole has a different personality to most – in that its basic product may be almost anything. As long as it can be branded, or used in some way to promote a brand or business, then it counts. That means there are theoretically as many suppliers working in the industry as there are types of buyable item in the market; and that the overall industry expertise has to lie in processes rather than in the absolute manufacture of a single type of thing.
To put the above in context: a brewery merely has to concentrate on making good beer; and packaging, marketing and distributing it in a way that satisfies its customers. Over the years, the brewery develops an expertise specifically tied in with the actual practical considerations involved in making and transporting a single type of product.
The advertising gifts industry, on the other hand, encompasses all product types: edible; potable; wearable; usable; and everything in between. Each type of product has its own requirements in terms of storage and shipping – and of course manufacture too. Yet the industry must function as a coherent whole, offering what its customers see as its actual product – which is essentially the ability to answer any promotional need with the right kinds of advertising gifts.
It is important to note that advertising gifts may not be the same thing as (for example) promotional items. That is to say, there are different classes of promotion served by the industry, for which different kinds of item are appropriate. In broad terms, an advertising gift may be seen as something specifically given to customers or clients, with the sole purpose of remaining them about a brand or of advertising a brand or product in some way. They are, in other words, unsolicited and tied only to a promotion.
A promotional item, on the other hand, could be something like a carrier bag or a box – an item of packaging, which is branded and designed to impart emotion and other advertising information to the customer, owner or user – but which is not given away as a gift so much as incorporated into the while buying experience. Here, the promotional product becomes part of the scenery of purchase, and is as such distinguishable from the advertising gift: which is designed to encourage future purchases.
It’s easy to see, from the foregoing, that the advertising gifts industry is more complex and targeted than such a smorgasbord business model might at first suggest. As a result, the only coherent product that can be pulled from it is that of service – an intangible element, but the one that causes buyers to seek out distributors and suppliers. The true sale, in any advertising gifts transaction, is of reliability and trustworthy service, rather than of any one individual piece of equipment or gift.