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.
There’s an emotional bond between pets and their owners, and it’s that bond that drives over $55 billion in sales of pet-related products. Nine in ten pet owners see their pet as part of the family, and according to the American Pet Products Association today more than 62% of Americans own pets. Companies within the pet industry as well as those in non-pet industries are paying attention to this data and are seeing a big opportunity for their brands. Charitable walks, hotels and resorts, car brands and car rental companies, and even software developers are some of the industries that purchase pet-related branded products to enhance their marketing efforts.
Today’s pets travel and exercise with us, have their own social-media accounts, require stimulating day care, eat organic food, and nap on luxury fabrics. To reach those pampering pet owners, marketers need to connect their brand to activities people do with their pets. There are many ways to do this and lots of products to support those efforts. Below are a few ideas:
- Sponsor a community event that is aimed at animal welfare, such as the popular Bark in the Park and Yappy Hour events.
- Distribute branded giveaways aimed at pets: dog treats at a drive-up window; dog-safe flyers at the company picnic; light-up waste bag dispenser in a safety program; or pet emergency decals as part of the wellness program packet.
- Companies that cater to the travel industry (hotels, car rental agencies, airlines), and want to connect with the people who travel with their pets, should pay attention to the pet amenities with gift bags that include useful animal care items like a collapsible water bowl or pet-paw soft wipes.
It may be the unquestioning loyalty owners get from their pets, or possibly the health benefits of lower stress and anxiety that come with pet ownership, but whatever the reason, trends show that pets are one of the most meaningful ways to engage consumers. So consider the power of the paw when your team is brainstorming the next new marketing approach.
Are paper calendars suffering the same fate as land phone lines and answering machines? While certain styles of calendars, like the once-popular desk calendar with the large date blocks for writing, have experienced steep declines in popularity, I will argue that many people who would otherwise describe themselves as tech-savvy welcome the addition of a stylish paper calendar into their daily routine of organizing their lives.
Admittedly, the electronic calendars on our phones, computers, and tablets have become as popular as the technology products themselves. We can sync them with multiple devices , and allow our co-workers, family members and friends access to our schedules with the stroke (or tap) of the keys. But with all the devoted paper lovers out there, there will always be an audience for a high quality branded planner that fits into a pocket or purse; a wall calendar with inspiring art or inspirational quotes; or an academic planner for the students.
Faster than anyone can log into their electronic calendar, we can pull out our planner, check the schedule, write down an appointment and close the book. A paper calendar doesn’t need to be charged; it can fall in a puddle without losing data; and it can hang on a wall giving us a quick visual reference on our day’s activities as we leave the room. Everyone has some style of paper calendar in their home, at their desk or in the car, and if companies ignore that fact they are missing out on a key marketing opportunity. The trick is to keep in mind one size does not fit all!
A subtle embossed logo on a high quality Moleskine pocket calendar is a perfect executive gift; a wall calendar featuring high quality photos of various corporate products and important dates printed on the appropriate day blocks is well received by tradesmen; and a student planner with exciting graphics displaying the corporate message will be used throughout the school year.
Does anyone still want a paper calendar? When the calendar is created with thoughtful originality, rather than just slapping a logo on the cheapest product available, the answer is YES!
Fifteen million people practice yoga in the United States. 77.4% are college graduates and 44% earn more than $75,000 annually, with 24% earning more than $100,000 annually (www.statisticbrain.com). Considering the weight of these statistics, it seems likely that at some point some of the branded merchandise aimed at the corporate customers during any given campaign will end up in the hands of a yoga enthusiast. So why not consider a marketing theme and associated products that are aimed directly at this health-conscious audience?
Offering a branded yoga mat, hydration bottle or bamboo towel as part of a wellness campaign, employee motivation program, or gift-with-purchase giveaway are all perfect opportunities to reinforce your company’s support of healthy lifestyle choices. Presenting the gift in eco-friendly branded packaging materials maintains a consistent message that will radiate out to your audience. Even the most casual exercise buff will recognize the value of the gift, and associate the giver with positive feelings of health and well-being.
With the many health benefits that come with the bending, stretching and deep breathing exercises taught in every yoga class, it is likely that this ancient form of low impact exercise will continue to attract growing numbers of followers. Marketing to those yogis may also help grow the corporate client base.