Awards & Engraving

October '16

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Page 51 of 84

A&E OCTOBER 2016 • 49 Sales & Marketing be naïve enough to think that things will remain the same with our customer bases, or study how general buying habits are changing. It is pretty certain that eventu- ally our industry will follow the buying patterns of retail in general. Why? Because the buyer that looks at your goods and services is the same buyer that is exposed to the changing world of retail around us. We may think that we drive buyers, but ultimately the habits of our buyers drive business the way we know it. If there is a common theme among these buyers, it is convenience. The new connec- tion economy takes convenience to the ulti- mate level. Why wait for a taxi if we have a choice of drivers that cost less within min- utes of our location? Why go to the movies when we can choose from thousands of titles and watch them in our home? Why visit a store if we can shop in our pajamas and have what we need come to our front door in two days or less? Why buy anything without seeing what others think of it first? However we feel about this, we need to face facts that the consumer world is changing rapidly—choices are enormous and we must adapt. Failure to do so will leave us behind and perhaps even chal- lenge our ultimate relevance. CHANGES IN THE FUTURE Perhaps we can take this a step farther and proclaim that to a certain extent, we are already there. Maybe there are no "hard" connections prevalent in our industry like Amazon or Uber, but what about "soft" connections? An example of this would be online rating services such as Yelp that rely on peer reviews on restau- rants, products and services. Whether you know it or not, there are already scores of reviews around the country on sites like this about compa- nies in our industry. When a potential customer needs an award or something engraved, he or she uses a search engine to find local or online companies that provide these services, and many times there are reviews or at least star ratings accompanying the listings. This can be construed as a connection, as it lets the consumer decide by virtue of a review system which company is worthy of doing business with. Note: In conjunction with this, you might want to refer to a previous article that I wrote for this magazine (October 2013, page 54) regarding why it is a good idea to monitor your online business reputation. If we take connections to another level, it is easy to see why the way that busi- ness today may take a major turn toward "different" not so far into the future. As our industry experiences unprecedented consolidation, alliances that we once felt were unthinkable might dot our future landscape. Already there are a number of companies that will take your order and process it through an offshore "partner" company and deliver it to you or directly to your customer on your behalf. We may even see the largest companies in our industry cooperate with each other to a certain extent. Sound far-fetched? Netflix, the largest subscription TV and movie content pro- vider in the world, does not even own the content it provides, and more astound- ingly does not host the content on its own captive servers. It leases space from Amazon, a chief competitor in this space. With this type of change happening around us, why would we think that our industry is immune to business models that we never before envisioned? We do not know exactly what the future holds for us, but this much is certain: things will be different. The answers to this will probably not lie in our industry, as it is almost a certainty that the way we market ourselves in the future will be a result of what happens around us. That is why it is a good idea to follow the con- sumer trends around us to get the best possible clues as to where we are headed. Reading and networking are excellent ways to keep up with where we are headed. Being diligent, and acquiring as much knowledge about this, will help with cur- rent and future trend spotting. What we can be assured of is that believing we can stand pat and conduct business the way it is today will leave us looking at the rest of the pack from behind. Eric Priceman is President of Victory, division of Planter Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. In his over three decades in the awards and engraving industry, he has traveled extensively, both domestically and internationally, visiting cus- tomers and suppliers. He is happy to share his unique perspectives of the industry, both past and present. Please feel free to contact Eric by email at or by phone at 773-637-7777 ext. 228 A&E

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