Selling and distributing corporate branded merchandise to company employees and loyal fans was once an expensive and cumbersome process, reserved for large companies with big marketing budgets. Product was selected once a year by a few people making their best guess about what their audience would want in the coming year. Paper catalogs were designed, printed and distributed. Product inventory was purchased, stored and shipped from a main warehouse. And at the end of the year the corporate buyers and their promotional product partners worked hard to find a home for any leftover inventory so the process could start all over again.
Happily for everyone, technology came on the scene and offered e-commerce solutions for company stores that eliminated the need for print catalogs, deep inventories or even the staff tech specialists we all relied on to build and maintain the early on-line stores. Suddenly, company stores became accessible to not only the largest corporate players, but also the smallest local merchants. Offering everything from an embroidered fleece vest to a coffee mug with the company logo, on-line company stores can be customized to accommodate just-in-time inventory for 1-piece purchases that can ship out immediately – or on-demand merchandise options with no inventory exposure, but longer lead times and minimum quantity purchases.
A simple e-commerce store can offer a custom product selection and shopping cart, without the bells and whistles of more sophisticated sites. And that is all the functionality most small companies would need or want. More intricate sites with multiple payment options, multiple pricing levels, currency & language requirements, and/or site integration with a client’s internal tech platform are available for any company with the size and sales volume to support it. But, point in fact, those companies have always been well-served by company store providers.
Today’s e-commerce solutions finally include solid, sophisticated options for small businesses. Do you have a dozen logoed items that you want to make available to your customers and brand fans? do you want a temporary shopping site to offer employees a choice of end-of-year appreciation gifts that can be shipped directly to them? or do you simply want one place to go to view and order product from pre-selected vendors that reflect the quality standards you set for your company? Then consider an on-line company store – it’s easier and less complicated than you may think.
Most people know the sun is bad for our skin, but many fewer realize the damage the sun causes to our eyes. Long term exposure to the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays can cause cataracts and macular degeneration, among other maladies like skin cancer on the eyelid.
Even though wearing sunglasses makes sense for our eye health, most people choose a cool pair of shades to make a personal fashion statement. In consideration of both viewpoints, corporate marketers looking for a gender-neutral summer giveaway with some edge have more options than ever in the promotional sunglasses arena.
Styles range from retro, aviator and wrap shapes with standard and mirrored lenses, to infants and kids sizes that come in a variety of fun colors. Logo decoration is offered on the lens, side arms and front frame, with fully customizable PMS colors to satisfy any corporate branding initiatives. And best of all, most promotional sunglasses offer full UV sun protection.
Street marketing, charity fundraisers, community outreach, parades, sporting events and countless other venues aimed at raising the corporate profile are perfect opportunities to give a pair of branded sunglasses. But don’t choose just any pair of sunglasses. Consider a style that relates to your audience demographic, and create a pair of shades that will excite and thrill. Protecting their eyes from the sun is just a happy bonus.
In recent years there has been a lot of press around the shrinking popularity of golf. Many reasons have been given, but a few of the most common are the cost of equipment, the lack of time in a busy schedule, the difficulty of the sport and the well-publicized fall of the game’s most popular superstar, Tiger Woods.
However, according to the National Golf Foundation, golf’s participation base remains stable. The number of people who played golf on a course in 2017 remained unchanged since the year before (23.8 million), and an additional 8.3 million played at off-course facilities like Topgolf, driving ranges or indoor simulators. In addition, the number of U.S. non-golfers who said they are “very interested” in playing at a golf course hit a new measured high, and helped boost the number of golf newcomers for the fourth year in a row.
All of this is good news for companies that want to reach a wide variety of potential customers. Golf isn’t limited to middle-age executives, as some may imagine. Consider the statistics:
Juniors (6-17) and young adults (18-34) comprise more than 37% of all on-course golfers. These groups make up 69% of the off-course only participant pool.
There are 5.8 million women who played golf on a course in 2017. Women account for 24% of the on-course golfer base and 41% of off-course only play.
Newcomers to golf are increasingly diverse: 35% are female, 26% are non-Caucasian and 70% are under the age of 35.
The variety of branded merchandise that is available for these groups is as diverse as the players themselves. The classic golf staples are always good – branded golf balls, towels, hats and divot tools. But for today’s eco conscious younger players, it’s good to consider more earth-friendly options.
Reusable water bottles for those that have eschewed disposable one-time-use plastic bottles
Dissolvable corn starch tees
Organic cotton polos and hats
Recycled golf balls
Recyclable golf pad & pen combo
Spring is around the corner, and the game of golf is going strong. It’s time to start planning for your next golf giveaway.
While retail is going through difficult times – store closures, declining mall traffic, e-commerce competition – the promotional products industry is enjoying tremendous growth in the offerings of brand-name items for corporate branding. Those retail brands are looking for different ways to market themselves, and co-branding through the promo channel is another way for them to advertise.
As for the corporate buyers, they have always wanted access to the quality and name recognition of the retail brands. Even as recently as ten years ago, there were few options for companies that wanted to add their logo to a brand-name item. But today there are retail brands offered in nearly every promotional product category. Apparel brands like The North Face and Under Armour; drinkware brands like CamelBak, Contigo and YETI; and even tech brands like Bose and Beats have jumped on the promo bandwagon.
However, not every customer has the marketing budget for a brand-name giveaway. In that case, retail-inspired products are available at a lower price point and with the same quality. The look and function are similar, and the stock is often more reliable. After all, not every marketing initiative calls for upscale retail products – but if a customer can relate to the style of the product because it looks like something they have seen on social media or in the stores, then it’s unlikely it will end up in the back of their closet.
The interaction between the retail industry and the promotional products industry has changed. The gap between them is closing, and the corporate customers are benefitting from the new opportunities created for creative, impactful promotions.
Winter will be around for another few months, and outdoor enthusiasts – workers, hikers, campers, hunters – will be looking for both warmth and comfort in their outerwear. Brands have an opportunity to shine with that demographic at this time of year.
Today’s consumer wants products that offer smart function, performance and style. Not satisfied to only follow the latest Instagram clothing trend, younger generations are less focused on quantity than quality. Single apparel pieces that can get them through multiple seasons in various life experience settings are the trend for today’s consumer.
Enter the corporate marketing initiatives. Companies that invest in increasing brand awareness and improving customer loyalty have become increasingly aware of the the need to respond to not only the style choices of Millennials and GenX’ers, but also to their generation’s emphasis on not consuming more goods than needed.
A rugged, but comfortable work jacket; a stylishly classic quilted vest; or even a custom knit beanie in a subtle color are all excellent choices for adding your corporate brand to an item that will be worn for years to come. Men and women. The young and not-so-young. By targeting your customer base with cleverly decorated, quality apparel items, your company will offer comfort to an audience that will repay you with brand loyalty.
After the fanny pack fad of the ’80’s faded, those functional bags of yesteryear were deemed uncool and were only seen on clueless tourists in bright tropical shirts. But a lot has changed in the last few years, and the fanny pack is back in fashion and hotter than ever.
Rebranded as a “belt bag”, “hip bag” or “waist bag”, the modern fanny packs come in various shapes and sizes. The styles range from practical nylon or polyester, to high-end leather. They can be simple with a single zipper, or decorated with studs and creative stitching. Nike and Adidas offer options aimed at athletes and the casual day-tripper, while numerous high-end designers like Gucci and Calvin Klein bring runway-worthy styles to the fashion-conscious crowd.
The resurgence in demand for practical, versatile items fuels the growth in this category for women and men alike. The fanny pack is responsible for 25% of the growth in the accessories market, and is the fastest growing segment in the men’s market. Worn around the hips or across the chest, these bags are turning up everywhere.
The good news for corporate marketers is that the promotional suppliers have responded to this popular trend, and offer lots of fanny pack options that would be perfect for concerts, festivals, sporting events and trade shows. Considering the current excitement around the contemporary fanny pack, it should be on the top of your list for upcoming event giveaways.
Since July, tariffs have been imposed on nearly half of the Chinese goods imported to the US. Those tariffs – which is essentially a tax on an imported good – can either be absorbed by the importer or passed on to the buyer through price increases.
For the most part, the impact of these tariffs on the promotional products industry won’t be felt until 2019, but why wait? There are many high-quality options for USA-made promotional products, and none of them will be subject to tariffs.
Drinkware: Cups, mugs, and tumblers are all available in various colors and shapes to help keep your customer hydrated.
Tote Bags, Aprons, Tablecloths: Create a custom bag with one-of-a-kind features; trade show table covering with enhanced graphics; or colorful apron for staff or customer gift.
Socks: Exploding in popularity and available with low minimums and endless customization options.
Plastics: Bag tags, cell phone holders, ice scrapers and clipboards are a few of the many plastic promotional items that remain popular giveaways at an affordable price.
Paper Products: Notepads, calendars, sticky notes and journals are all made in the USA and are among the most popular giveaways for home, travel and office.
Leather Goods: From key tags to high-end luggage, every customer appreciates the quality of genuine leather and the appeal of American craftsmanship.
Caps and Hats: Many US manufacturers offer ball caps and knit beanies, which are especially good for inventory programs that want a unique product but can’t afford long lead times.
T-Shirts: Short sleeve and long sleeve tees have been made in the USA for many years, but with the increased attention on this category, there are more choices and better price points.
There are many reasons, other than avoiding tariffs, to consider buying USA-made goods for your next promotion. Those reasons include supporting American jobs, reducing carbon footprint, and endorsing the superior human rights environment of the American worker. When you add it all up, a USA-made product with your corporate logo sends the right message to your customer without blowing the department budget.
Don’t expect your target customer audience to get excited about another shirt, hat or fleece that looks just like all the others in their closets. Appreciative, yes – excited, no. But with a little extra time and effort, your company can offer a clothing item that showcases your brand creativity and youthful attitude.
Fully customized hooded sweatshirts are a perfect cold weather item for young and old, male or female, regardless of industry.
Yoga leggings with custom waistband or all-over print are designed with relaxation in mind, and work well for women’s organizations, gyms or yoga studios.
All-over print t-shirts and jackets make a bold statement for corporate conferences, team events and trade shows.
Custom branded pockets on all types of t-shirts provides a single-location brand statement that pops off the garment.
Add subtle creative flair with a custom logo inside collar on 1/4 zip, 1/2 zip or full zip fleece.
Be bold, or remain understated – in either case the difference is clear when a custom branded apparel item stands out from the crowded field of embroidered or screen printed corporate clothing. Showcase your brand attitude – it’s everything!
In the era of #ThrowbackThursdays and #FlashbackFridays, retro-inspired products are more popular than ever. The nostalgic emotion of times past triggers the happy feelings that retro products inflame.
In response, corporate marketing departments are capitalizing on this trend with branded products that resonate with that audience – and those products are created with the modern consumer in mind. Check out a few of the more popular merchandise trends below.
Classic radio styles equipped with bluetooth capability
Metal coolers with retro design and modern stay-cold features
Full color metal lunchboxes
Playing cards with custom fronts and backs
Customized board games like Scrabble and Monopoly featuring corporate graphics and messages
Coffee mugs; bottle openers; and coasters that look like vinyl records
Hoodie sweatshirts, sweatpants and skater-style sneakers are even making a resurgence
There is a wide range of products that reflect the retro craze without sacrificing the present-day features we have all come to expect. Consider retro with a modern twist for your next promotion – those items are having a moment.
The way that you dress can earn you, and your brand, respect. At corporate events like trade shows and industry conferences – or even in the office on a Friday afternoon – it’s important to dress professionally so others know you mean business.
Business casual attire is well-accepted but it can be tempting to take the idea of “casual” too far. It should be less formal than traditional business-wear, but still provide a professional appearance. Keeping that in mind, disheveled t-shirts, cargo shorts and flip-flops should be left at home for the weekend hang-time.
Depending on the industry and age of the employees, appropriate business attire can mean polos or button-downs, paired with pants for men, and pants or skirts for women. On occasion well-constructed jeans are acceptable, but not the ones with holes and fraying hems. Even though in today’s fashion world consumers pay a premium for a pair of designer ripped jeans, it’s still not the right image for someone representing most corporate brands.
Consistent brand identity, which in turn increases brand loyalty, relies on maintaining a dependable dress code for every corporate event. Consumers come to depend on a recognizable corporate image that commands their respect. That respect becomes trust – and trust grows into loyalty.
If you respect your brand with appropriate attire, so will your customers.