Earth Month Refresher: How to Offer Sustainable Promotional Products

Earth Day is fast approaching, and sustainability trends continue to sweep the promotional products industry. With this timely opportunity, the iPROMOTEu team would like to offer an evergreen refresher on how distributors can strengthen their commitment to environmental responsibility.

Environmental consciousness among consumers and businesses has risen significantly over the past five years. To stay ahead of this curve, promotional product distributors must embrace or sharpen their sustainability strategy and eco-friendly product offerings. According to a Business Wire study, 85% of global consumers say they’ve shifted purchasing decisions in favor of more sustainable choices. And consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products—especially Millennial audiences and businesses.

The promotional product industry is faced with two points to consider:

  • Widespread, increasing support for sustainable products
  • An enduring, unflattering perception that promotional products are little more than “cheap swag” bound to damage our ecosystems

In light of these common contemporary themes, iPROMOTEu presents distributors advice on how to meet the needs of environmentally conscious customers, and how to encourage and facilitate requests for eco-friendly promotional products.

Common reasons customers ask for sustainable promotional products

Many larger corporations have specific goals or compliance regulations they must reach for sustainability. Typically, one area of sustainability is around purchasing, and promotional products fall into that category. This means distributors will need to help educate customers regarding what the product is made from, where it is made, and how it is made to ensure that their customers’ goals are met.

Another common reason customers ask for sustainable options is because of the ongoing environmental movement. We estimate that about 30% of iPROMOTEu customers have sustainability on their radar. Compare this to the 88% of consumers want brands to be more eco-friendly (per Futerra). iPROMOTEu is here to help distributors serve these customers who want and perhaps expect companies to make environmentally friendly choices.

At iPROMOTEu, we encourage all distributors to include sustainable or eco-friendly items in their presentations and ideation, even if such details are not requested. This allows customers to become more familiar with the options available, and they learn that our Affiliates are trained to source and provide these products.

Common challenges for distributors offering sustainable products to customers

The most common challenge iPROMOTEu’s Affiliates face when offering eco-friendly products is understanding how compliance demands lead to sustainability efforts. Distributors need to know the right questions to ask, how to read the relevant reports, and how to decipher all the terminology. As the industry increasingly adopts a sustainability mindset, a wealth of resources are available to both educate customers and instill confidence that their needs are being met.

Supply chain and product availability remain challenges to sourcing sustainable products. Distributors must be willing to invest a significant amount of time researching options and mapping out a plan to help their reach customers’ goals. We encourage Affiliates to work with suppliers they trust. If you are seeking recommendations, our iPROMOTEu Preferred Vendor Program (iPVP) includes 200 partners with a proven portfolio of comprehensive services, quality, sourcing, and dependability; overall, we have a vetted network of nearly 800 suppliers.

What steps can distributors take to encourage customers to choose eco-friendly promo products?

Regardless of industry, everyone strives to work with individuals and companies who inspire them or have a great product. One of the best ways to accomplish both is to provide options beneficial to the health and longevity of Earth.

Eco-friendly products need to become a constant presence in all presentations, conversations, and sampling. When customers know the options are available and how they compare, the industry can help make this change. Swinging this pendulum will only help to improve the perception of our industry.

Distributors should also be conscious of the packaging used to ship promotional products. Recycled or biodegradable packaging materials should be of primary consideration, while ensuring shipments are not over-packaged.

Resources to help distributors source sustainable products

iPROMOTEu encourages distributors to attend industry training to learn about the sustainability movement and to understand the terminology. Two leading industry organizations, Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) and Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), offer extensive training through complimentary on-demand webinars. PPAI also hosts an annual Product Responsibility Summit with guest speakers from Fortune 100 companies, government officials, and leaders in compliance.

iPROMOTEu Affiliates also have access to Vendor & Supply Chain News to stay up to date on how our partners are setting and meeting delivery goals.

With Earth Month upon us and eco-consciousness on the rise, there’s no better time for distributors to freshen up their sustainable promotional product strategy. The purpose of iPROMOTEu is to allow distributors to focus on their strength—sales—and to leave the other tasks to us. To discuss options for sustainable promotional products, contact iPROMOTEu’s specialists to learn about the ongoing fresh innovations in the promotional world.