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.
Bringing leftovers to work used to be a dull nod to a frugal lifestyle, with lunch options that generally left us with a choice of bologna sandwich or day-old wilted salad. But fortunately for those office workers that are comfortable planning and preparing some of the extensive choices of robust meal options, the lunchbox gear has become much more cool.
A good example is the Japanese-styled bento box. A far cry from the sweating Tupperware container or a cheap soft-side cooler, when the noon office meal is packed in one of these single-portion modern boxes, the packed lunch becomes reason for lunch envy from your office mates.
From its humble beginnings, appearing in the 16th century to feed people under military commander Oda Nobunaga, it has taken many forms today from the simple to the complex – sometimes even taking the shape of comic book characters or flowers, animals and plants. But regardless of what design it takes, it never strays too far from its origins of ease and convenience. In fact, “Bento” is derived from the Southern Song Dynasty term biàndāng, meaning convenient.
Corporate wellness programs can benefit from incorporating a branded bento box, or similar cleverly styled lunch container, into the mix. Employees and customers will be inspired to cook a little extra the night before to eat better the next day, all while saving the time and money it takes to buy lunch from the nearby sandwich vendor.
We are visual beings. Colors inspire and help us learn. Between the primary colors of red, yellow and blue – and the secondary colors of orange, green and purple – an impressive 84.7% of consumers cite color as the primary reason they buy a particular product.
What those colors represent to people:
Red – Creates a sense of urgency, encourages appetite and physically stimulates the body, raising blood pressure and heart rate, associated with movement, excitement, and passion.
Blue – Associated with peace, water, tranquility, and reliability. Blue provides a sense of security, curbs appetite, and stimulates productivity.
Green – Associated with health, tranquility, power, and nature. Green stimulates harmony in your brain and encourages a balance leading to decisiveness.
Purple – Commonly associated with royalty, wisdom, and respect. Stimulates problem-solving as well as creativity.
Orange & Yellow– Cheerful colors that promote optimism.
Established companies have already chosen their logo color, and with smart product branding they incorporate that color generously in promotional materials and advertising. Even if a promotional product is offered in a standard black or silver color, custom packaging with bright colors can jazz up the presentation and drive home your brand message.
Research also reveals that people make a sub-conscious judgment about a product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. With the right use of color, your product will become instantly more relatable and relevant to your customers.
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.
Social media marketing is a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your marketing and branding goals. Promotional merchandise is products branded with a logo or slogan and distributed in marketing and sales promotions. When you put them both together you have a powerful marketing strategy that can help your company stay ahead of trends and better target specific audiences, resulting in a new generation of brand fans.
Since social media is basically free and available anywhere for consumers, many companies already use it to find potential clients. The next-level step would be to design a clever social media campaign that is tied to a unique audience or experience. Consider these ideas to better connect with, and ignite, your followers:
Offer a Gift for Super-Fans: Choose a few devotees engaged with your brand and reward them for their loyalty with a gift that would appeal to them.
Ask for a Shout-Out: Send a message like, “Be one of the first 50 people to retweet our big news and receive XXX”. Be sure to specify what they will receive and make it creative.
Drive Demand with Limited-Edition Items: Create a custom item that represents something unique to your brand. Offer it to your followers as part of a contest to sign up for a new service, buy a product, donate to your charity or book a trip.
There’s no doubt that clever promotional merchandise – of good quality distributed in a creative way to a specific target audience – can do big things for any company, large or small. But you have to be ahead of trends and engage your brand fans where they spend their time – on social media. So go ahead and surprise them with cool stuff – it will help you break through all the other marketing noise.
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.