Brands And The Digitally Inclined

h_70370The goal of branded giveaways is to drive brand recognition and customer interest, but the results are often not what we counted on.  When the choice of gift does not match up with the demographic of the intended audience, the expected impression can fall flat.

When considering the fact that everyone from toddlers to seniors have embraced the digital age – whether intentionally or by necessity – it’s a logical choice to select a promotional product that appeals to our global digital transformation.  And that digital transformation is not just about technology, it’s also about the products that make it easier for customers to access that technology.

  • Activity Tracker:  These staples of the health-conscious crowd are offered in varying price points, with a variety of features from simply counting steps to connecting with friends for friendly fitness challenges.
  • Smart Watch:  There are lots of less expensive alternatives to the Apple watch, and they offer many of the same features like bluetooth capability and cameras.
  • Flash Drive:  Store all of those digital files in one small, portable place without the fear of losing everything in a computer meltdown.
  • Power Bank:  Recharge mobile phones and tablets on the go!
  • Backpack:  Give a backpack with features like built-in power pack and headphone access.

Millennials and the Gen Z generation are always looking forward, spending an average of 10 hours day in front of screens, with a short attention span that responds to engaging digital content.  For your next corporate giveaway, consider a gift that keeps these digitally inclined customers aware of your brand while communicating and working in a digital world.

 

Generational Marketing

different-heights-01Marketing tactics and media outlets will differ depending on the target audience, so in order to reach those buyers effectively marketers must look at the data to properly design their strategy.  The latest market data for Millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers and the Silent Generation may surprise you, but the information is a valuable tool for all companies looking for more powerful ways to sell their products and services.

As a guide for this discussion, it may be helpful to know the age definition of the generations marketers are trying to reach.  According to a 2011 Pew Research report, the four target generations can be defined as follows:

  • Millenials:  Born between 1977 and 1992 (age 37 and younger)
  • Gen X:  Born between 1965 and 1976 (age 38 – 49)
  • Baby Boomer:  Born between 1946 and 1964 (age 50 – 68)
  • Silent Generation:  Born between 1928 and 1945 (age 69 – 86)

Millenials:  A UBS survey earlier this year determined that Millenials are still traumatized from the 2008 financial crisis.  Morley Winograd, co-author of Millenial Momentum: How A New Generation Is Remaking America, states “There’s a very clear indication in the market that the effect of the Great Recession on that generation’s psyche is not going away”.  Bottom-line:  Companies need to offer a better bargain, without sacrificing quality or innovation.  Think about giving useful items like a phone charger to catch the attention of this demographic.

GenX:  A 2013 study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute revealed that members of Generation X are especially health-conscious.  Other studies find that they are appreciative of creativity and function – in other words, they love useful things that look cool.   A stylish pen or anything related to technology are good bets for promotional items designed to reach this contingent.

Baby Boomers:  Comprising half of America’s population by 2017, this group is most passionate about the environment.  According to Brent Green & Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in baby boomer-oriented marketing, Earth Day and Whole Foods were founded by older boomers, at the beginning of a eco-conscious movement that started in the ’60’s and ’70’s.  Organic, eco-friendly products are a must for this group.

Silent Generation:  According to the latest US Census data, people 65 and older control 75% of the country’s wealth, along with 70% of its disposable income.  This generation thinks more about the grandchildren than themselves, and are likely to take time to travel to destinations they didn’t have the time or money to visit earlier in their lives.  Travel necessities or a daypack for the grandkids will be appealing to these folks.

When you consider the data, and allow for the differences between the age groups, generational marketing allows you to speak to your audience in their own language.   Try tailoring your marketing message and enjoy the benefits of a more loyal, engaged client base.

No-Stock Fulfillment Programs

A164-00097Promotional product fulfillment programs that can offer a variety of branded products with no stock exposure may not be the conventional model for company stores, but it is a concept whose time has come.

As corporate procurement departments are continually working to drive the costs out of these programs, their vendor partners have an obligation to explore different ways to make that happen.  There are many ways to achieve cost savings  – operational process improvements; creative product sourcing; aggressive price negotiation; and attention to freight costs are a few.  However, the way to offer the most relief from that dreaded end-of-year obsolete inventory exposure is to design a program that reduces, or eliminates, logo product stock.

Distributors can forge partnerships directly with product suppliers, process orders through a custom web site designed to integrate with those suppliers, and ship directly from the supplier warehouses.  Or, there are 3rd party vendors that offer that same service, along with impressive web platforms, to fill the void for distributors that want to focus more on client service than web site management.  In either case, since the product is stored, decorated and shipped on demand from the manufacturer, the corporate customer has no inventory exposure and the distributor has no need to consider financing, storing and shipping the product from their own warehouse as part of the end product price.

Of course, the program dynamics will change a bit with this model.  Lead times will increase – same-day or next-day shipping will not be possible without pre-decorated merchandise.  The price to produce one piece of embroidered apparel will not be the same as the cost of running 12 pieces.  Hard goods (pens, cups, bags) will have minimum order quantities.  (Although, the truth is, the price of shipping one coffee mug is very costly and is a practice that should be eliminated from corporate purchasing habits anyway.)

Corporate customers want a logo store program solution that will offer cost savings, quality products and a service level that provides the internal buyers with a positive user experience.  No-stock fulfillment programs is a concept that can provide that solution when executed correctly, with the expectations addressed and communicated thoroughly with all stakeholders.  Discuss the possibilities with your promotional product provider – it may be time for a change!

New Year Brings New Hot Product Picks

holiday 2013At the start of every new year, I prepare myself for the inevitable question that every corporate promotional product customer asks – what are the new product ideas that deliver the highest perceived value for the most budget friendly price?  While all the new products are too numerous to list, and many times the word new refers only to a different feature on a classic style, there are always a few items that stand out to me for no other reason than I think they are cool!  Of course, judging the cool factor is very subjective, but what follows is only the beginning of a list that we will explore and evaluate together throughout the year.

  1. Yoga Pants with customized sublimated waistbands.  Good karma!
  2. Heat Cuffs use new technology that sends heat through pulse points to your hands and feet.  Stay warm!
  3. Bicycle Helmet Cover features full color imprint on form-fitting Lycra material.  One size fits most.  Heads up!
  4. Cup Shape Tissue Dispenser fits in your car cup holder for easy access.  Holds 40 tissues. Healthy habits at hand!
  5. New Revolution iPad Case features built-in wireless Bluetooth removable plastic keyboard.  All together now!
  6. New Line of Apparel includes hoodies, sweatpants and shorts in flourescent orange, pink and green.  Stand out in the crowd!
  7. Silicone Speaker amplifies iPhone sound with no batteries necessary. Holds iPhone horizontally or vertically.  Turn up the sound!
  8. Retractractable Bottle Opener/USB Flash Drive is offered in metal or plastic.  Open up the possibilities!
  9. iEraser is handheld microfiber piece that glides across the screen of phone, tablet, laptop or TV.  Keep it clean!
  10. Re-Engineered Camelbak Sport Bottle features exciting shapes and colors, great flow rate and easy-clean straw and cap.   Weekend warrior essential!

From the practical to the whimsical, one size definitely does not fit all!   I look forward to moving into the new year with a fresh perspective and sharing what comes next in the world of branded merchandise with corporate partners ready to explore new ways to bring the marketing message to their audience.

New Year Opportunity From Year End Inventory

For businesses that manage corporate promotional product stores, year end inventory reconciliation provides the opportunity to take a final look at the history of item sales and get a fresh perspective on the product mix for the New Year.

Although the monthly sales reports will provide an ongoing analysis tool for the popularity of each item in a corporate fulfillment program, the final inventory count at the end of the year signals the perfect time for everyone to sit down and take a hard look at what products are winners, and which are ready for retirement.  It’s the time when the corporate customer must decide what to do with the unsold stock and, armed with the 12 month usage reports, come to the table with an open mind on how to invigorate the progam with a refreshed merchandise mix.

It is always tempting for the client to let the slow-moving products sit on the warehouse shelf for another year, rather than use budget funds to buy out and distribute that merchandise.  And, in some cases, it’s unavoidable to allow certain items to stay in the program until the stock is depleted.  But, if the inventory has been managed properly throughout the year, with monthly updates and positive action steps between the vendor partner and the customer, there should be very few instances when the product buyout represents more than a small quantity percentage of each sku.

Once the final inventory count is complete, and decisions are made on the disposition of the obsolete merchandise, the fun begins!  New products, new web site enhancements and most importantly, new ideas on how to engage the corporate buyers should all be ready to launch in January.  Ideally, the discussions on those changes were initiated at the beginning of the last quarter of the year, and with agreement from all program stakeholders, implementation can coincide with the energy that comes with the opportunities and possibilities of the New Year.

Year end inventory counts may be a tedious task for the warehouse manager, but for the corporate customer, with the exception of the launch of a completely new on-line store, it is the best opportunity to revitalize a program that supports the corporate brand.