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The European Perspective

The European promotional products sector is in great health according to the sixth PSI industry barometer, which had feedback from 740 European suppliers and distributors.

The Pan-European study found that companies taking part expected to see a 5.3% growth in sales in 2018, marginally up on the figure of 5.2% for 2017.

Key markets

The barometer found that sales of merchandise are spread over many industry verticals with automotive being the most important, named by 37% of respondents. Finance and insurance (27%), retail (26%), construction (26%), and tourism (24%) were the next most important.

Profitable products

When it comes to product categories that are driving profits, apparel topped the survey with 27% naming it their most profitable sector in 2017. Electronics and multimedia (17%), school and office supplies (12%), and lifestyle and accessories (10%) were the next most profitable.

These profit centres remained relatively unchanged from the previous year, with only 8% of suppliers and 12.7% of distributors noting any changes.

Choosing a distributor

A total of 75% of companies said they were convinced of the effectiveness of promotional products. When it comes to choosing a distributor, good service was named as the most important reason by 70%, followed by advice (53.3%) and a good business relationship (50%).

Company size and sales

The surveyed member companies generated average sales of €6.4 million in 2017. However, 50% of companies had sales of under €1m. Between the period of 2013 to 2017 there has been some shift in the composition of the market with a slight move towards larger companies in both the supplier and distributor sector. However, this seems to have been less pronounced than in the UK where the recent Sourcing City report indicated a greater consolidation of the industry around larger players.


The average industry margin noted by the report was 25.7%. Respondents were split almost in half regarding their satisfaction with margins. The 51% who were unsatisfied gave reasons including customers pushing prices down (76%); too much competition (69%), and overhead expenses too high (30%).


A growing number of companies are looking to become certified as sustainable. The biggest growth for suppliers was in businesses aligning with EU standards, which was up to 30.5% from 18.6% in 2016. ISO certification was named as most important by distributors and saw a big increase from 19.5% to 34.7%.

Larger companies are more active in taking steps towards demonstrating sustainability with 75% of businesses with 50 to 99 employees saying they were doing so, compared with just 4% of sole traders. Overall 35% of companies are taking steps. An average of 36% of goods are certified in some way and 65% of companies advertise this fact.

Supplier Trends Noted:

  • In-house developments in high-quality personalised print production.
  • Organic fashion and eco-friendly textile screen printing is demanded more and more frequently.
  • Quality awareness is steadily increasing. Service is a theme that’s gaining in importance.
  • There’s a trend towards high-value products.
  • Our customers need more-innovative and more-creative products than they used to.
  • The focus is on European production.
  • It seems that companies had a higher budget for promotional products in 2017.

Distributors Trends Noted:

  • Our customers increasingly request products that are helpful and have a long service life.
  • More and more mugs and porcelain cups are requested, since the trend is moving away from plastic cups.
  • There’s a much greater selection of finishing methods that can be offered to the customer. New products are being launched throughout the year.
  • It’s notable that considerably more electronic products are being requested.

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