Brand Comfort

dri_duck_5020_model_shot_medWinter 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.

Not Just For Gamers – VR And Brand Engagement

virtualTake a college tour.  Test drive a car.  Attend an art gallery display.  Or give a prospective employee a view of the workspace before they arrive for an interview.  Virtual reality gives sellers the opportunity to reinvent the way they market and sell their products.

Beginning with the basics of VR, there are two types:  360-degree VR is a video that allows the viewer to see all around them while remaining stationary.  Immersive VR is virtual space that can be moved around in.

As a practical matter, 360-degree VR is more affordable for corporate marketing purposes since the content can be created using apps for Android and iOS, and will also take videos captured with smartphone cameras.  Full immersion VR requires a specialized development team to create content, which can run into thousands of dollars.

Branded headsets for 360-degree viewing can be purchased for as low as $15.00.  With cutting edge marketing techniques offered at a budget-conscious price, it is no wonder that the promotional products industry has seen a sales surge in this product over the last two years.  Multiple headset styles at varying price points allows nearly every company to turn a future consideration of this compelling medium into a real-world decision for today’s customer or prospect.

Try offering booth visitors at your next trade show the opportunity to submit a creative 3D video for the chance to win a prize.  It will drive engagement and increase brand awareness – which, of course, is the only reason your team is at that show to begin with!

Image courtesy of NY Times

Time Is On Your Side

watch1.2 billion watches are sold annually worldwide.  Watches are a fashion statement for some and a practical timekeeper for others.  They range from the high end classics used for gifts for top employees and important clients, to the nearly disposable styles that are popular with the younger crowd.

Invented at the end of the 19th century, naysayers had predicted the demise of the watch with the explosive growth of clock-equipped cell phones.  However,  in recent years watches have had a resurgence in popularity.  Flashy, bulky watches show up on runways; retro watches are all the rage after the success of shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire; and watch companies like Movado are all coming out with styles that offer bright colors and high tech capabilities.  For many people, a new watch is a fashion necessity.

Considering these trends, corporate marketing departments should consider that a fun, creative watch could be the outside-the-box item that creates a solid brand bond with their customers.  The logo can be big and bold on the face of the watch, or in a more subtle location like the band or the back.  Materials range from stainless steel to plastic, and the color palettes are broad enough to suit any company’s brand color.

The days of waiting to give a watch until your employees retire are long gone.  Today’s watches are a good choice for fundraising events, university promotions, reward programs and recruiting efforts.  Prices range from $5.00 up to several hundred dollars, and are creatively styled to appeal to any demographic.  For your next promotion, what would be better than giving the gift of time!


Cold Weather Staple: Fashion Fleece

fashion fleeceWhen it’s important for your brand to be seen in more places than just the customer’s backyard, fleece garments with fashionable styling, lighter weight fabrics and better fit are an option that has grown in popularity.  And since branded apparel purchases are generally more costly than the average promotional product, selecting a style that many consumers would choose for themselves is the best way to get the biggest return on those limited marketing funds.

The trends in retail fashion influence the corporate clothing market, and now that market offers styles that range from rustic, casual fleece jackets to polished, sleek options with contrasting drawcords and white metallic zippers. Performance fabrics provide warmth with less weight, and moisture-wicking technology draws perspiration away from the body in order to maintain warmth and dry skin.  Color choices range from earth tones to jewel tones, while always maintaining the classic white, black and navy for the more conservative crowd.  Even with classic college-style crewneck and hoodie sweatshirts, corporate apparel suppliers have answered the call with distressed fabrics, hockey style laced fronts and retro styling.

Gone are the days when the choices for branded sweatshirts and fleece jackets were limited to four basic (or some might say “boring”) styles offered in three colors and the five standard men’s sizes.  Enlist creative thinking and consider your audience when choosing the best fashion fleece for that next executive premium or customer gift-with-purchase – the improved brand awareness and customer appreciation will be worth it!

(Image via Tri-Mountain)

Domestic Manufacturing Makes Sense Again

american madeAccording to a survey by Boston Consulting Group in September, 2013, “More than half of the US-based manufacturing executives at companies with sales greater than $1 billion are planning to bring back production to the US from China …”.  From the viewpoint of these executives, this decision makes good financial sense.

There are 3 main considerations that are driving this movement:

  1. Labor costs:   cited by 43 percent of respondents
  2. Proximity to customers:  cited by 35 percent of respondents
  3. Product quality:  cited by 34 percent of respondents

Other factors include access to skilled labor, transportation costs, supply-chain lead time and ease of doing business.  Especially when considering products that will be sold in the US, when the cost of all of these elements are added together, manufacturing in the US begins to look more appealing as compared to the increasingly costly and complicated nature of importing from China and other off-shore countries.

In addition, while the economics of onshoring makes economic sense for the manufacturer, the social impact of adding factory and related service jobs to the US market must be appreciated as a renaissance for the American workers and consumers alike.  This revival will spark new employee training and re-training of current company associates; facilities improvements; enhanced customer service levels; faster production turn-around; and higher product quality.

Now that domestic manufacturing makes sense again, it will be easier than ever to find affordable USA-made products that can carry your corporate logo.  Consider the possibilities when discussing the next marketing project with your branded merchandise specialist!

Taking It To Extremes

1349975049According to the Global Industry Analysts, Inc (GIA) report on the popularity of extreme sports, the global demand for these high adventure activities is expected to surge. No longer reserved for the eccentric, the customer base is broad and comprises of teenagers and young adults to more mature, mainstream sectors of the population.  Some extreme sports have even surpassed more conventional sports in popularity.

What does that mean for corporate marketing departments?  For one thing, it means that companies targeting daring, sports-minded consumers should be conscious of the fact that some of those sports may fall into the the extreme category, and the promotional merchandise they give away should be able to stand up to the same elements these sports enthusiasts endure.

A few products that can hold their own under extreme conditions:

Eco Extreme Speaker Case:  Durable, high quality speaker case that can be used by snowboarders and hikers – but is also perfect for golfers and boaters.  It’s a waterproof case that floats, with built in speakers to carry the sound of an iPhone, Ipod or other MP3 player, and can withstand falls, drops and the elements.

Quench Hydration Packs:  Made from durable 840D polyester, this ready-for-anything backpack offers a large main comparment and a separate rear compartment that holds a 2-litre water reservoir.  Extra pockets for storage and padded back panel, waist belt and adjustable straps gives the sports enthusiast the ability to stay hydrated while climbing that last 100 feet.

Sunglasses by Coleman:  Polycarbonate frames, polarized lenses and rubber molded detail for comfort make these sunglasses an essential part of the arsenal when the sun is shining off the helmet of the biker in front of you.  Shock proof case provides protection and microfiber cloth keeps them clean.

Extreme sports are gaining in popularity for participants and spectators.  Sports of all kinds have been popular since the beginning of time.  Corporate marketers looking to get their brand in front of an active, aggressive audience need to consider products that can keep up with their lifestyles.   Ask for samples and take them for a test drive – if you dare!