Politics has a funny way in rearing its ugly head in places where you least expect it. The threat of job loss, financial ruin, and outright inconvenience just lurk around the corner at the signing of the next bill. This time, the tariffs against China and Mexico, whatever political reasoning behind it, will hurt the promotional product industry. Surely, promotional products can’t be that big of an industry? Nope. Promotional products are a $24 Billion dollar industry in the United States. I shudder to think about how much it is all worth worldwide. Nonetheless, the direct consequence of this sort of tariffs will make everything far more expensive to produce.
So, how does this work with smaller businesses? What about the effects on promotional products in Decatur, Alabama? Are there any upsides to this? Surprisingly, yes there is. While people in the promotional products industry are going to suffer a huge hit from the expense, this could be a blessing in disguise in some ways. What sort of blessing? Let’s find out.
Human Rights Benefits
There is a reason why these promotional products can be cheaply made in bulk. It all has to do with factory labor.
China’s prospects for prosperity, while good looking on paper, is surprisingly grim for its people. When China gentrified itself, many workers from poor rural areas could no longer afford to live in their area, so they would go to find work in the factories. “There are currently 150 million migrant workers in China of whom 6.5 million work in the clothing industry.” Most of them can barely make ends meet, earning about $2 a day on average. There are no trade unions, no social security rights, strict regulations on their comings and goings, with a high risk of injury. It is no different from the sweatshops during our own industrial revolution.
These tariffs will make promotional products more expensive to import. It will also hurt the chances of factory owners keeping up their profit margin. Which means those factories may shut down. This could potentially lead to a snowball effect of deindustrialization or at least a demand for better treatment across the board. It is a complicated process and the idea, I admit, is a little naive, but sometimes, people just need enough incentive to get mad enough to change their situation for the better.
This can be said of any sweatshop based economy, if you cut off the demand, you need to meet a new one to survive economically.
I mentioned this before, but the mass productions of plastics can cause major damage to the environment if left unchecked. After all, it takes fuel sources, consistent burning energy, and waste to make something in general. Usually, if a person is making one thing, or even 100, the environmental damage is pretty minimal. But when you have a system that is scarily efficient at making promotional products.
Heavy metal poisoning, excess carbon dioxide, and animal waste on such a mass scale are enough to outright alter the state of the immediate environment. And, if the practice of production has been consistent for years, then it can literally wear holes away in the ozone layer. And the United States is ridiculously bad about this. A whopping 85% of our energy comes from fossil fuels. Our oceans, on a worldwide level, is slowly killing off the algae responsible for half of our oxygen. And since acknowledging this is technically a threat to the US economy, we commonly ignore the issue.
But, again, thanks to the presence of the tariffs, it could lead to more factory shutdowns from a lack of demand because of the raised price on import. When more of these things are being shut down, there is less consistent worldwide damage. There is also far less plastic waste from the promotional products being thrown in landfills anyway.
More Focus on Customer Interaction
Our economy is a service-based one, filled with incentives, advertising, and bending over backward to please the customer. Promotional products in Decatur, Alabama or any other part of the world exist for the sole purpose of constantly reminding the customer that their company exists. But if you think about it, how much attention do we give to the giveaways? Isn’t the actual interaction with the customer more important? Is it better to give a customer a promotional product and not talk to them? Or is it better to actually hold a conversation with them?
We focus so much on incentives, promotions, and free toasters, that our customers are getting sick of it. Maybe the decreased spending of promotional products can help businesses actually engage with customers. Giveaways shouldn’t replace customer service.
Which is why I want you to consider smaller amounts in local promotional product production. It will be cheaper locally now, more ethical, and more customizable. Plus, you are stimulating the local economy. So, I am kinda glad for the tariffs this time around. It’s a blessing in disguise.