A recent survey of distributors throughout the U.S. offers and glimps into current and future economic expectations for 2011. Asked about their overall 2011 business outlook, nearly 20 percent answered, “We are projecting record sales this year.”  However, most (two-thirds) indicated they were anticipating good but modest growth.
 
“Fortunately, no one said they were projecting a decline in sales,” says Jolynn Kennedy, marketing manager for Tornado Industries, conductor of the survey.
 
The distributors were also asked if they were projecting business growth in 2011 and in what product categories did they most expect it.  Their responses included:
• Paper and plastic products: 36 percent
• Green/sustainable cleaning products: 27 percent
• Equipment sales: 27 percent
• Chemical sales: 10 percent.
 
“We also had a few non-economic questions,” says Kennedy.  “For instance, we are continually tracking the impact of social media in the industry.  The numbers still appear to be low.”
 
Asked if they use social media sites to communicate with their clients, the sites most frequently mentioned were:
• LinkedIn: 29 percent
• Facebook: 29 percent
• YouTube: 14 percent
• Other: 29 percent (sending out e-mail blasts was a common item noted).

Finally, the distributors were asked if their customers are “becoming increasingly interested in conserving water and chemical use during the cleaning process:” sixty-seven percent answered yes; 22 percent, no; and the remainder had no response or indicated “not sure.”
 
Kennedy says the big “takeaway” from the survey is that most distributors are anticipating sales growth in 2011 “and that equipment sales are likely to improve. These are high [profit] margin items, which if true, bodes well for many distributors,” she adds.