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Archive for January, 2012

Latest report shows event budgets suffering

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

The latest Bellwether report from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) shows that event budgets suffered in the last quarter of 2011, despite an increase in marketing budgets. The sector analysis of marketing budgets revealed that ‘other spend’ – which includes events and PR – saw a drop of 7% in the final three months of 2011. The report also showed that traditional media spend fell, while marketers favoured spending on digital campaigns, price discounting and more direct marketing strategies.

This trend is worrying to carrier bag suppliers and other companies in the promotional products industry, as promotional merchandise sales are traditionally closely linked with event activities.

Commented Chris Williamson, Chief Economist for Markit and author of the latest Bellwether, “Companies held their marketing budget broadly unchanged in the final quarter of last year, a flat picture which probably reflects a similar stagnation of the overall economy. However, it is encouraging to see that companies are planning to raise their marketing spend in 2012 despite seeing their financial prospects for the next three months falling to the worst since the height of the financial crisis in early 2009. It seems that many companies are looking to fight the prospects of a challenging year ahead with increased promotional activity.”

Meanwhile, the latest corporate hospitality report from Market and Consumer Insight predicts an 8% increase in this sector of the event industry during 2012. This report reckons that 2011 saw the sector grow by 2% to a total value of £950 million and it follows hot on the heels of another survey that revealed that the corporate hospitality sector employs a staggering 7% of the UK population.

Printed Bags remain top promotional product in a recovering market

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

A recent report on the promotional merchandise market in the UK and Ireland over the past five years – produced by Sourcing City, a leading provider of information services to the trade – shows the effects of the global recession but indicates that the market is slowly recovering, with printed carrier bags fairing better than other products.

The largest effect of the world economic downturn was felt by the promotional merchandise market in 2009, when the sector’s revenue fell by over 26%. During 2010 and 2011, the market has grown slightly to some £754 million but remains about 15% smaller than in 2008.

The report also shows a slow-down in the number of distributor companies ceasing trading. The number of failures in 2011 was just 69, although the overall number of distributor companies in the market has remained relatively constant over the past five years, due to both brand-new start-ups and the number of ‘phoenix’ firms that have restarted to shed their debts. The number of supplier failures in 2011 was 59, the highest annual figure recorded to date. Since January 2006 the industry as a whole has seen 769 companies cease to trade, of which 540 were distributors.

The market review also shows little change in recent years in the top promotional product groups. Printed carrier bags continue to be the top revenue earner, followed by pens/pencils and plastic giveaways. Then follows clothing at fourth spot and mugs come fifth. Interestingly, USB sticks lost their position at number six during 2011, slipping back to ninth.

The carrier bag category continues to show growth in market share, increasing its proportion from 12.8% in 2009 to 14.3% in 2010 and 16.6% in 2011.

EC bag consultation shows depth of feeling – and depth of ignorance

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

With the European Commission having published the results of its consultation on the use of plastic bags, the plastics industry is awash with comment and debate. Many pundits feel that the report reveals an alarming level of ignorance among the European public about the effects of plastic on the environment.

A staggering 97 percent of responses ’strongly agreed’ that action is needed to curb plastic bag use. Comments included the following statement:

“Plastic is destroying our environment and is a pollution that is not necessary. It is has a deep bad impact on nature and it is poisonous for all living systems. There are basically profit-interests behind using so much plastic. We should avoid using it and the EU should decide against unnecessary plastics.”

Strong stuff and rather spurious. Another respondent claimed:

“Carrier bags are a needless drain on our oil resources and can be easily replaced by reusable bags.”

This perhaps overlooks the point that plastic bags are, in fact, reusable!

Unsurprisingly, the plastics industry is fighting back with a vengeance. For instance, PRW.com – the online version of Plastics & Rubber Weekly – referred to some of the public’s comments as “baseless twaddle”.

One thing is clear: the plastics industry – and plastic bag suppliers in particular – are very likely to be facing action from the EC in the near future.

Plastic bag ban boosts sales of bin liners Down Under

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

The efficacy of the plastic bag ban recently introduced in Canberra, Australia, is being called into question after a leading supermarket revealed that bin liner sales have rocketed since the new law came into effect.

Grocery giant Coles said that bin liner sales have increased by a whopping 29 per cent since the law – which bans the provision of plastic bags thinner than 35 microns, typically the kind distributed by supermarkets and takeaways – came into effect on November 1. Commented Jon Church, Coles’ Head of Communications, “Wherever plastic bag bans have been introduced, we see an increase in sales of bin liners as customers no longer have single-use carrier bags available which many households use for disposing of their waste. It is well reported that following the South Australian ban, sales of bin liners across all retailers doubled.” Coles and rival chain Woolworths have been charging for thicker carrier bags since the ban was introduced.

Alistair Coe, Liberal MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) in ACT (Australian Capital Territory), has claimed that the figures call into question the government’s reasons for the ban. “It goes to show that the plastic bag ban is putting an extra cost on the weekly bills of Canberra families,” he said, “but in addition to that, it shows that the consumption of plastic bags is perhaps remaining steady.” The new laws were passed by the ACT government with the support of the Greens, while the Liberals voted against it.

How to make QR codes work for your business

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

QR (Quick Response) codes are the becoming a popular marketing tool for B2C and even B2B brands. The early adopters of this technology included the USA and Japan but the UK is now among the world’s top 10 largest users of QR codes.

When scanned with a smartphone, these patterns can be used to redirect customers to a mobile-optimised website with virtually any kind of content. This means that they are a great way of providing the facility for instant information retrieval without the need for typing. Not surprisingly, many companies are now picking up on their potential in terms of promotional materials – including using them on paper bags, plastic bags and cotton bags.

For QR codes to be an effective marketing tool, however, companies need to think carefully about the experience that is offered to the user:

1. Inform the audience

Most smartphones don’t have a native QR reader installed, so you need to tell your customers that they can download an app that will allow them to read QR codes – many of which are free. Include details of these apps in your QR marketing campaigns.

2. Make it work!

There is no point putting a QR code in an in-flight magazine advert or on a poster in the underground network, where there is no WIFI or even a ‘phone signal! Also, don’t simply connect users to your website or company Facebook page – that’s just boring. Think about creating mobile sites, small downloads and content that can be accessed anywhere. Plan your QR content carefully; there has to be some incentive for users to scan – such as exclusive content, key product information or automatic data sharing. Remember, once a relationship is established, it is easy to add additional content such as discounts and special offers to build customer loyalty.

3. Keep aware

Set up your QR code marketing so that you can monitor it and change it easily throughout the campaign. Analysis software is available to allow businesses to see exactly when their QR codes were scanned, which were most successful and which media tools had the best return on investment.

Plans for ‘compostable’ plastics at London Olympics

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Amid claims that the London 2012 Olympics will be the greenest in the event’s history, an environmental organisation is hoping that plastic packaging used at the event that is not recyclable will be made from compostable materials.

The NNFCC, the UK’s National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials, has agreed to act as an advisor to the Olympics Delivery Authority and London Organising Committee on how renewable packaging can be used at the event. The organisation is helping to create a supply chain for bio-based packaging at the London Olympics and will ensure that materials used comply with European Standard EN13432 (the requirement for packaging recovery through composting and biodegradation).

The NNFCC said this certification would mean that non-reusable, non-recyclable packaging should be suitable for ‘in-vessel’ composting or anaerobic digestion. John Williams, the NNFCC’s Head of Materials, said the body wanted any plastics used at London 2012 that were not recyclable to be made out of certified compostable plastic. The NNFCC is promoting the certification scheme for compostable materials through its UK Renewable Packaging Group, while “raising awareness of the benefits offered by more sustainable materials to key players in the packaging supply chain”.

Mr Williams conceded that the scale of the Olympics venture would be relatively small but added, “2012 is a perfect way to show how waste can be dealt with.” The NNFCC is working with a number of retail brands – including the fast food chain, McDonalds – in the run-up to the event.

Here at the Corporate Carrier Company, we take environmental concerns seriously. As standard, all of our polythene bags are produced from biodegradable plastic. They are also produced in the UK, minimising transport miles. All our UK-produced laminated paper bags are manufactured with paper from approved sustainable sources and the inks used are made from vegetable dyes, making them an eco-friendly option. Whilst we have the option to import bags when longer lead times allow, the vast majority of our laminated paper bags are produced in the UK, minimising transport miles. Of course, our twisted handle paper bags are 100% biodegradable, while our cotton bags are produced from natural, unbleached cotton.