You may have heard, the United States Postal Service is struggling – to say the least.
The storied American institution lost $8.8 billion in 2019, marking the mailing agency’s 13th consecutive year reporting fiscal losses. The COVID-19 pandemic made things significantly worse, as the USPS reported $4.5 billion in losses in the quarter ending March 2020. In April, the agency asked Congress for $89 billion in relief funds. The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed in May, did not grant funds for the USPS, but authorized the agency to borrow $10 billion from The United States Department of the Treasury. The USPS and the Treasury agreed to the terms and conditions of that lending authority on July 29.
Meanwhile, Americans have noticed their letters and packages have been arriving later than usual and their mailboxes are seeing a decline in business and marketing mailers. The hotly politicized state of the USPS is also taking social media by storm, as the U.S. grapples with the logistical (and political) hurdles of implementing mail-in voting as the nation approaches the Nov. 3 presidential election amid a global pandemic.
Amid the chaos, supporters of the USPS have been flocking to its website to buy stamps and merchandise to help pump lifeblood into the agency. Despite dwindling discretionary dollars and an economic decline, Americans are putting their money where their mouths are to help save the USPS.
With consumer demand at a fever pitch, perhaps now is as good a time as ever to jump into a licensing agreement with the USPS. The agency is actively seeking licensing partners via its website. The USPS is looking for licensing partners across all major verticals including gaming and toys, pets, sporting goods, apparel, stationery and paper goods.
The USPS is no stranger to licensing, though most of its licensing deals cover apparel and stamps.
In May, clothing brand Anti Social Social Club revealed a limited-edition USPS line, a collection that included a work jacket and work shirt, t-shirts, pullover hoodies, hats and a side bag. In March 2019, USPS teamed up with fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 for a size-inclusive line of athleisure apparel and accessories. The line, which included hoodies, jackets, tees, tube tops, biker shorts and a zippered clutch, featured pieces emblazoned with iconic USPS terminology and phrases, such as “Priority Mail,” “Express” and “First Class.”
And the year before that, toymaker Mattel inked a deal with USPS for a line of Hot Wheels-branded stamps, while food and beverage heavyweight The Coca-Cola Company entered into an agreement with USPS for a line of Coca-Cola-branded stamps for the 2018 holiday season.
The USPS brand could lend itself to a host of products serving nearly all categories. Its ubiquitous appeal should be leveraged at this critical time when consumers are voraciously supporting the agency on their social channels and encouraging friends and followers to purchase stamps and merchandise and help out where they can. The demand is hot because as the old adage goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”