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Firms shun promotional items to cut costs

KARACHI: Many companies have slashed orders for calendars, diaries and planners in an attempt at cutting costs to balance rising operating expenses.
However, market watchers consider it more to be a reflection of changing times as people now prefer multipurpose compact electronic gadgets. “Even a basic cellphone can serve the purpose of calendar and planner. Who cares for calendars and diaries anymore?” commented an analyst.
Many companies have replaced diaries, calendars and planners with other promotional giveaway items like key chains, mugs, paperweight, table reminders, card holders, ballpoints, etc.
Market people say that although big multinational companies have still maintained annual practice of sending diaries and calendars, they have become more discreet in selecting their clients.
Small- and medium-sized printers say that smartphones, feature phones, computers, tablets, laptops, etc have played havoc with their businesses.
In Burnes Road area, small printers of diaries, calendar and planners appeared highly worried over the steep fall in orders, especially this year, despite growth in profits of many listed and non-listed companies coupled with persistent rise in data of large-scale manufacturing (LSM).
Syed Adil Ahmed, the owner of Print Vision at Burnes Road, said, “I have received no order for diaries this year compared to 1,000 last year.”
He recalled getting the highest order of 6,000 calendars in 2010, dropping to 4,000 in 2013 and this year to only 2,000 calendars. As for planners, he has not yet received any order since last year.
Many private-sector manufacturers have cut the number of pages of calendar to six instead of 12, others insist four-page calendars with three months on each page. The drop in orders for diaries and calendars has reduced the operating hours to six from 12 hours of many printing houses.
Ahmed said printers are trying to survive in view of hike in printing ink price to Rs800 from Rs500 per kg in the last two years, and art paper and matt paper ream rates to Rs3,400 per ream from Rs4,200 in the last one year besides significant jump in power rates.
Failing to sustain high operating cost, many people have invested in real estate after selling out their printing houses, while others have rented out their printing facilities.
He claimed that many companies are bringing readymade calendars, diaries and planners from China with their companies’ name printed on these items.
Owner of RTM Links Nadeem Riaz said 70 per cent of work relating to printing of diaries had finished in the last four to five years. He said there was hardly any work for table calendar while only 60pc work is being done on wall calendar.
He said arrival of finished diaries from Lahore had also hit diary printing business in Karachi making easier for many companies to just print their names through screen printing process.
In contrast, one of the leading printers said, “The orders for diaries and calendars are more or less the same as last year’s as big companies and MNCs place orders to leading printers only due to quality work.”
Public relations companies of various companies offer different views. Head of Media Relations of the Passage Media Strategists Naveed Baig claimed 60pc decline in arrival of diaries from their 15 clients including MNCs, listed, non-listed and big local companies followed by 50pc fall in wall calendars.
CEO Bridge Public Relations Zeeshan Jafri claimed 75pc drop in arrival of diaries from his 10 clients in the last two years. Wall calendar and table calendar distribution from clients plunged by 25pc and 10-15pc respectively. Arrival of planners had remained very negligible, he added.
PR Consultant Khurram Zia Khan pointed out 60-65pc reduction in sending of diaries by the companies since 2011 and 50pc drop in calendar distribution.
He said MNCs and private sector companies give away mugs, ball pens, key chains, wallet, leather made visiting card holder etc. in seminars, conferences and promotional events.
A promotional-item maker said he makes wooden and glass key chains with engraving of companies’ names at Rs60 per key chain. Plastic key chains cost Rs20 to over Rs100 per item, while a quality mug price ranges between Rs150 and Rs170. The price of visiting card holder (leather) is Rs150-200. Ballpoint pens’ price hovers between Rs20-50 to maximum Rs250 depending on the quality.
This story was published in Dawn Newspaper on February 16, 2014- 

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