Waste Not Want Not

At Ideasbynet we have noted an important change in marketing strategies during the current economic downturn. While promotional gifts remain a simple and effective marketing method, companies are now choosing products which have a practical use, rather than mere novelty value.

In 2010, we saw a steady drop in sales of promotional logobugs, fridge magnets and stress toys, and large increases in the likes of cotton shopping bags, ice scrapers and pocket diaries.

2010 also saw a threefold increase in tax disc holders, as well as large increases in sales of both branded pens and promotional mugs.

Since the beginning of the credit crunch, we have seen products such as the trolley coin keyring take over from their plastic ‘promo’ counterparts, selling in excess of 100,000 units in both 2009 and 2010.

Companies continue to seek value for money in their promotional products, however, their approach is now to focus on products which may have a higher unit cost but are less disposable and may be used daily by members of their target audience.

We feel that our customers are realising that practical products allow them to promote their brand more widely. For example, a cotton shopping bag displays a company logo not only to its owner but also to the general public. And as have previously seen in last week’s post that coffee mugs can be an incredibly effective marketing tool, with the average coffee mug being used over 2000 times!

Employees Suffer Anti-Alcohol Torrent of Abuse at National Trade Show

Having attended the fifth annual ‘Trade Only’ supplier show over the last few days, myself and my colleagues have been treated to a wealth of new and exciting product ideas (to follow on the website shortly – most imported items are still ‘on the water’ apparently) and no small about of bigoted abuse. No I’m not talking racial or sexual abuse, rather that of the lesser publicised anti-alcohol bigotry.

The show is your typical affair of daytime meandering through product stalls followed by an evening dinner and awards ceremony (unfortunately punctuated by a truly awful comedian who was probably the least funny man in the room). This nightime do, of course, was accompanied by a not insignificant amount of drinking. Now I enjoy a drink as much as the next man, but happen to be in the middle of an abstinence period I’m calling ‘dry till Thai’ in honour of my forthcoming holiday to Thailand (need to whip the beach body into shape!). My sales director colleague is dry though choice, and is perfectly happy ‘on the h20’. Despite the lack of booze, we were as us for a party as anyone and pushed our gang on into the casino, where we continued into the wee hours of the morning.

This wasn’t good enough however – for every pint, shot or jug of ‘dirty vimto’ that was ordered, it was accompanied by the question, ‘bloody hell are you still not drinking?’ At first we didn’t mind, but when you have the same conversation 20 times in a night it gets rather wearing. Exchanges would go like this:

Drunk: Do you want a drink?
Me: No thanks
Drunk: Go on, have a drink!
Me: Ok, I’ll have a water then
Drunk: What’s the deal with this not-drinking business? Come on have a drink!
Me: We’ve been through this
Drunk: Come on don’t be a loser, have a shot with me
Me: I’ll have a water please

We were toasted as ‘losers’, told we should be ashamed of ourselves and that we were an embarrassment to humanity (ok that might be a bit of an exaggeration but you know what I mean). The abuse was non stop and never ending, and very very annoying. Undeterred, we stuck it out till the end of the night as the others fell over themselves whilst trying simply to stand. One girl decided she’s had enough of her heels, and demanded someone lend her a pair of socks as she held her shoes and padded around the casino floor. Ever the gentleman, my colleague Byron duly obliged and gave her his socks.

However the shoe (and sock) was on the other foot as the night drew to a close. Our peers stood drunk and freezing in the taxi queue as we calmly drove by – hotel bound an in anticipation of a hangover-less morning.

Coffee Culture Stimulates Promotional Mug Industry

This week, Starbucks have announced a significant rebrand. The chain wishes to distance itself from its bestselling product by removing the word ‘coffee’ from its logo and expand into confectionary and alcoholic beverages. We, on the other hand, have noticed a continuing caffeine trend that is boosting business and suggests Starbucks may have been too hasty in turning their back on Coffee Culture.

As Adrian Mole noted, these really are the ‘Cappucino Years’. Coffee consumption is at an all time high and ‘shall we meet for coffee?’ has become a ubiquitous social invitation. The productivity of office workers around the world is undoubtedly maintained by regular caffeine hits and coffee is an essential part of many peoples’ morning routine.

Having analysed our 2010 sales figures, ceramic mugs accounted for over 10% of all sales. To try and substantiate these figures, we carried out our own market research on the use of promotional coffee mugs. What we found was that the average mug will be will used around 2000 times before its owner stops using it – the average coffee mug is kept by a single owner for 14.75 months, and used for 4.75 hot drinks per day.

Not only does a promotional coffee mug represent our zeitgeist and provide a large print space for company logos and information but is also an extremely practical item.

If the Starbucks rebrand does not reflect a reduction in the world’s coffee drinking habits, it perhaps suggests that people are now choosing to drink in their own homes or offices. More coffee drinkers means more mug users and more promotional opportunities. At Ideasbynet we expect to see a further rise is coffee mug sales in the the promotional gifts market in 2011.