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PSI Industry Barometer Europe: The soaring sustainability level of the promotional products industry in numbers

07.03.2018 10:14 Uhr PSI
PSI Industry Barometer Europe: The soaring sustainability level of the promotional products industry in numbers | PSI Industry Barometer Europe: The soaring sustainability level of the promotional products industry in numbers

PSI Industry Barometer Europe: The soaring sustainability level of the promotional products industry in numbers

Diesel driving bans – now they’re coming after all! Environmental protection, with the judiciary showing the political community how it’s done. And let’s be honest: Would you have counted on it? This has been going on for years, after all. But no more. Good for those who are prepared. Environmental protection is a component of sustainability. And once again it’s better to be prepared than having the hammer of the law come down on you.

We’re already in the middle of the final sprint to close out the first quarter of 2018, with the EU CSR reporting mandate breathing down our necks and the EU General Data Protection Regulation coming into view. Both are substantial components of sustainability and thus also of the current PSI Sustainability Awards 2018. So a look at the promotional products market is worthwhile: How are my competitors handling sustainability? Are they still just flirting with it – or are they already moulding an approach?

Is it a top priority? Or still nothing more than a decorative accoutrement? Let’s just let the numbers do the talking – ideally those from the very latest PSI Industry Barometer Europe 1/2018. Doing so will help you to navigate the corporate landscape and, of course, to decide whether to enter your company this year in the fourth PSI Sustainability Awards.

Let’s get to the point (of sustainability being a priority): thanks to their responses and suggestions, 740 participants (distributors and suppliers) from across Europe made what’s already the fifth edition of the PSI Industry Barometer into one of the most comprehensive and most valid market studies of the European promotional products industry to date.

Naturally, as we sit here today, we care most about one very specific aspect: How do you, dear colleague, deal with CSR and sustainability? And that’s a question to which the study does indeed provide a whole bunch of differentiated answers.

Quality awareness on the up and up

Even before getting to the actual questions on CSR and sustainability, the answers to the question inquiring about observed product trends (Chart 10) are already quite revealing. Even at that point it becomes clear that there’s a changing trend on the user side, and CSR and sustainability aspects can be filtered out as relevant criteria.

It becomes obvious, for example, that quality awareness is on the rise. Value, durability and European manufacturing sites are increasingly in demand. Respondents also registered a move away from the throwaway mentality. The focus is shifting to eco-friendly components, for example when it comes to textiles and the disposable cups that dominate the coffee-to-go culture.

Markedly increased sustainability activities

These trends on the user side are matched by nothing less than soaring sustainability momentum on the supplier side. This dynamism is generated by suppliers and distributors moving in lockstep. That alone is an amazing realisation right at the outset, because thus far distributors have been lagging far behind their suppliers in terms of sustainability discipline.

Besides the increased expectations of the industry, the drivers of this significant development include the more sharply worded EU regulations reflected mainly in the EU CSR reporting mandate (which entered into force in all 28 EU countries on 1 January 2017).

Participating in the PSI Sustainability Awards leaves you better prepared

But the promotional products industry appears much better prepared at this point. Not least, credit for that goes to the PSI Sustainability Awards. On the one hand, they’ve contributed to carrying the issue deeper into the market. On the other hand, participation in the PSI Sustainability Awards serves to prove a company’s fitness in the fields of CSR and sustainability, both of which are becoming more and more crucial in the competitive game.

Responding to the PSI Industry Barometer at the end of 2016, 18.6 per cent of suppliers and 15.1 per cent of distributors had said they were guided by EU regulations. Those figures had increased to 30.5 per cent among suppliers and to a nearly equal 29.2 per cent among distribution partners by the end of 2017.

Almost a third of promotional products companies deal with CSR and sustainability

In other words: at the end of 2016, about one in five suppliers and about one in seven distributors had tackled CSR and sustainability in some way. By the end of 2017, that figure had already risen to almost one in three in both market groups alike!

An extraordinarily vivid and multifaceted snapshot appears when we look at the activities taking place across the three pillars of sustainability: economy/quallity management, environmental management and social management.

Supplier check

A comparison of the numbers from the end of 2016 with the sustainability level in 2017 serves to illustrate this point. Let’s start with the suppliers. At the end of 2016, 17.3 per cent of suppliers had held various ISO certifications in quality and environmental management. In 2017, that figure was already at 28.1 per cent. At the end of 2016, 3.4 per cent of companies had been SGS Fresenius-certified; in 2017, 10.2 per cent were.

Steep increases were recorded in social management, as well: At the end of 2016, 12.6 per cent of suppliers had been SEDEX-certified; in 2017, 21.9 per cent were. BSCI certification saw a similar jump: from 11.1 per cent to 30.5 per cent.

Other pertinent company and product certificates of note include TÜV and EMAS (on par with 21.4 per cent each) as well as Intertek and SA8000 (both with 14.3 per cent).

The product certificates with the strongest gains were FSC (24.2 per cent), Oeko-Tex (17.2 per cent), GOTS (14.3 per cent) and PEFC (10.2 per cent).

Distributor check

And what’s the deal with distributors? Concerning the numbers reported, it’s important to note that no distinction was made between distributors without their own imports and those who do import products themselves.

While 19.5 per cent of distributors had held any of a number of quality and environmental management certifications at the end of 2016, that share rose to 34.7 per cent in 2017.

Distributors positioned themselves in the social management arena, as well: at the end of 2016, 11.4 per cent had held SEDEX certificates; in 2017, 22.2 per cent did. The number of companies with BSCI certificates developed from 9.6 per cent at the end of 2016 to 19.4 per cent in 2017.

The standout on the list of pertinent company and product certificates is the TÜV seal with 40.9 per cent. EMAS made it to 22.7 per cent, and Intertek to 4.5 per cent. The predominant product certificates were GOTS (22.7 per cent), FSC (15.3 per cent) and Oeko-Tex (13.9 per cent).

A third of the industry invested in sustainability measures in 2017

A total of 35 per cent of the companies surveyed invested in CSR and sustainability measures in 2017. For about half of all companies, corresponding proof and certificates are important. The relevance of having proof increases with the size of the company.

We again run into the sustainable third when we look at the share of certified products: on average, 36 per cent of the supplier and distributor product portfolios carries such proof.

And almost without exception, those who have ecologically and socially responsible products in their assortments also advertise them in order to stand out from the competition.

The fourth PSI Sustainability Awards 2018: Fit for business

Applications for the current PSI Sustainability Awards 2018 are in full swing. Indeed, after the three successful rounds so far, something like a – quite agile – Sustainable League has emerged in the industry. And it’s growing!

Credit for that goes to, on the one hand, the early popularity of the awards along with the final ceremony in Wiesbaden and, on the other hand, to the insight that CSR and sustainability are topics that can no longer be tuned out, as can be easily extrapolated from the EU CSR reporting mandate, the EU data protection regulation (GDPR) and the Chinese Blue Sky Initiative. You don’t have to be a prophet to predict further tightening in future.

Quadruple benefit

Participating in the fourth PSI Sustainability Awards 2018 delivers four benefits for you and your company: First, you’ll create a structure and the ability to navigate the future in your company.

Second, you’ll document your company’s sustainability commitment and contribute to its reputation. Third, you’ll be prepared for supplier audits by the brand manufacturers directly affected by the EU CSR reporting mandate, which will have to make their supply chains transparent.

And every single one of us is a link in those supply chains somewhere. If you have to pass when getting a CSR and sustainability questionnaire, you’re out of the game – at least temporarily.

Fourth, you’ll get ready for 2023: that’s when even small and medium-sized companies will become subject to the EU CSR reporting mandate. No one will be able to take away what you’ve initially prepared and updated each year.

Whether you’re an awards newbie or a veteran participant: stay on the ball!

Registration deadline: 20 April 2018!

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