Ugly Sweaters – Beautiful Branding

ugly christ sweaterWhat started as a joke in the snowy upper Midwest has grown into a national craze that shows no signs of slowing down. To say the public’s affection for the ugly Christmas sweater has gained momentum is an understatement. From holiday parties to group shots with Santa Claus, people everywhere are donning hideously adorned holiday apparel.

As a natural evolution of everything that’s hot in retail, the ugly Christmas sweater craze has hit corporate America.   In 2015-2016, Uber sponsored an ugly sweater giveaway in designated cities across the country.  Wine and spirits companies have created ugly sweaters that promote their brands.  The craze has even landed one company a Shark Tank deal and in two years they went from a million dollar company to a ten million dollar company.   That’s a lot of ugly sweaters!

The appeal goes well beyond just the company holiday parties. They’re also great holiday gifts for customers and employees; perfect for the holiday fun runs (gotta stay warm!); and unforgettable as a community outreach program.  Consider branded ugly Christmas sweaters for this holiday season, or next – and keep in mind, as Oscar Wilde said,  “The ugly can be beautiful”.

Image courtesy of uglychristmassweater.com

Comfort From The Cold With Branded Apparel

Winter portrait. Young, beautiful woman blowing snowThe business benefits that can be accrued from corporate gift-giving are many, from increased productivity to employee satisfaction to longevity in customer relationships.  The gifts you give represent your company, and should express the value you place in your relationship with the recipient.  And what better way to show your respect for your employees and customers than to give them the gift of warmth.

Name brand clothing lines with fashion-forward styles, better fabric options and more choices for women, in particular, offer the corporate world an opportunity to give a gift that will build loyalty and brand awareness with every recipient.  Rather than the standard polo or button-down shirt that is a necessary choice for trade shows and office attire, cold weather clothing essentials are items that will be worn at home, on the weekends, and on the job.

Consider the following apparel categories and the new ways to give the gift of warmth to your customers and employees in the coming winter months.

  • Hats:  Beanies with leather patch, bluetooth headphones, or LED light; fleece lined tassel hat; or polar fleece headband
  • Fleece Jackets:  Lightweight microfleece full zip jacket; super warm brushed fleece pullover; or sophisticated quarter zip rib knit fleece
  • Hoodies:  Vintage french terry hoodie; women’s poncho hoodie; or hooded hockey sweatshirt
  • Puffer Jacket:  Packable down vest or jacket; water resistant finish polyfill jacket; or ecologically sound lightweight layering jacket

There is a cold-weather clothing item that will work for nearly every recipient.  Take the time to consider the age and lifestyle of those people you want to thank, and give them something that will give them comfort from the cold in the coming months.  They’ll thank you!

The Age Of Environmentalism

eco-pencil-1000We have a new generation of buyers.  Buyers that are concerned about the environment; buyers that care about human rights; and buyers that look for the same in the companies they work with.  And those companies that demonstrate an overarching message of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are winning the affection and trust of those consumers.

According to an industry study, in the age group 18-35, 58% of end-users are more likely to have a favorable opinion of companies buying and distributing eco promotional products – more than any other age bracket.  And it’s not just what the product is made of that this generation cares about.  You can’t just say your stuff is eco-friendly because it’s a mug and not a one-time use paper cup.  Most people of the millennial generation are smarter than that.  They want to know about the product materials; the ability to recycle the item when it’s outlived its use; energy usage; and even fair labor practices.

Their concern with the environment is part of their culture, and as they enter into the upper echelons of the workforce, millennials are poised to stoke the growth of the eco category as buyers of all types of products and services.  So what types of promotional products would appeal to this audience without killing the corporate marketing budget?  See below for a few of the many eco product ideas that work in the office or at home.

  • Reusable, recyclable tote bags
  • Bamboo flash drive
  • Reusable, recyclable travel mug
  • Recycled organic cotton t-shirt
  • Corn plastic letter opener
  • Recycled microfiber cell phone stand
  • Recycled polycarbonate sunglasses

The values shared between customer and company are the building blocks of long-term partnerships.  If your company wants to win over this growing customer segment, consider eco friendly promotional products as one more tool to help support your branding message.

Kickin It Up A Notch

soulkixCustomers always ask ,”What’s the newest product trend in promotional merchandise?”.  Today, one of the best answers to that question is custom printed canvas sneakers.

A growing desire for one-of-a-kind goods continues to drive the market for custom-designed footwear.  This trend is spurred by millennials on one end and baby boomers on the other, making it a very appealing marketing tool for companies in any industry.

The fact that there are few promotional merchandise options that are truly unique, custom  printed sneakers stands out as a way for companies to set themselves apart.  It’s a gift that lends itself well to team recognition or as a creative way to drive traffic to a trade show booth.  If you sponsor an in-booth drawing that awards 10 people each day with a pair of custom branded sneakers, you get their contact information at the same time you get their shoe size!

Custom printed sneakers may not be the answer for a large-scale giveaway, but it’s new, and it’s hot, and it definitely shows your company is kickin it up a notch when it comes to increasing brand awareness.

 

 

Marketing To Young Buyers

y_zThere are 93 million millennials – otherwise known as Generation Y – in the US.  That group now represents the largest segment of the American workforce.  With the oldest members being in their mid-30’s, they will be a dominant force for a long time.  But right behind them is Gen Z – with 70 million members in the college and high school scene – which will soon be a factor for any company looking to promote and sell to that market as well.

As with any customer demographic, there is a unique dynamic to these young buyers.  Marketing through emails and videos; giving youthful products that appeal to this tech- savvy group; and keeping the retail styles in mind when picking out headwear and apparel are all solid guidelines for appealing to the under-40 crowd.  It’s a matter of giving something that is “cool enough”- the latest and greatest – and not something that they have received multiple times in the past (swap the white cotton tee for a bella+canvas black heather tee).

The stats – courtesy of Pew Research Center – that support the theory:

  • By 2020 40% of all consumers will be from Gen Z
  • About 40% of Gen Zers say corporate offices are their preferred workplace
  • The average GenZer has the attention span of about 8 seconds
  • By 2025 millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce
  • 90% of millennials check their emails, texts and social media accounts before getting out of bed
  • More than 60% of millennials stay updated on brands through social media
  • 77% of millennials participate in loyalty reward programs
  • Millennials consistently spend more than other generations on fitness-related products

Young buyers are the future – prepare to understand what they want, and avoid what they don’t – if you don’t, someone else will!