These days one of the most common things that you might find being thrown out in the garbage are giveaway tote bags, t-shirts, and more. Giveaways are a $24 billion industry in the United States as companies from big to small are using these incredibly cheap items to lure in more customers. However, these supposedly “thoughtful” freebies may not be as worthy as they promise to be.
You can find giveaways almost everywhere today. You can get one for updating your membership, joining a conference, or just by visiting a booth at a tradeshow. Many of these giveaways are not particularly sturdy and may only be useful for single use. In the end, receivers discard them – just like how they discard plastic.
The campaign to save the environment by banning single-use plastics and encouraging reusable bags has driven the giveaway industry into a frenzy. Companies around the world are being encouraged to invest in affordable branded giveaways. However, this may easily have unfortunate implications for the environment – as many of these giveaways are not suitable for long-term use.
To improve brand awareness more and more companies are now buying their freebies from companies in China – where cheap materials are taken advantage of to purchase in bulk. In the process – while the companies are able to save and patrons are happy for their freebies – the environment suffers due to the added trash.
One thing to take note of, there are different types of giveaways that contribute to this issue. Tote bags make up over 8% of the giveaways, t-shirts are the most common with over 25% of the sales, USB drives make up 7.5% and writing instruments over 6%. The industry continues to grow especially in the United States and covers almost every sector including healthcare, education, not-for-profit, industries, marketing companies, and technology.
From small to large companies, there are hundreds of businesses offering their services to provide these giveaway goods. Most of them specialise in items such as calendars, mugs, magnets, t-shirts, tote bags, and more. These corporations also know how to drive their products and services as the industry continues to be very lucrative even as they are selling their items at rock bottom prices.
The low price encourages companies to buy more and maximise their marketing budget. Sadly, however, making sure that they are able to keep these rock bottom prices does not encourage producing these items ethically. After all, making sure that they are environmentally friendly will increase the cost. This is in parallel to the fashion industry where brands selling cheap t-shirts have come under fire for contributing negatively to the carbon footprint.
In the advertising sector, there have been plenty of reports showing that these products come from Chinese factories who are constantly exposed to poor working conditions. Nevertheless, there are changes coming as you read. Recently, President Trump’s tariffs on various Chinese products have increased the prices of these items up to 25%. In fact, many printing and marketing companies have already expressed their concerns at these changes.
Some corporations have also considered shifting their production to other markets. Some companies have thought of moving the manufacture to different countries like Mexico, Malaysia, or Africa – although these countries are also known to have poor regulations when it comes to workers and the environment’s safety.
Nevertheless, there are alternatives in which every single one of us can take part in. The prices of these giveaways are going up due to the high standards that the government is already imposing. Companies who are offering these services should instead pitch for their products to be made humanely and environmentally friendly than competing for rock bottom prices.
Offering products that give environmental value is a win-win solution because they can be used for a longer time by customers and can help brands develop better responses from the consumers.