How to plan, buy and work with awareness braceletsJuly 2011 By Michael Cornnell
It's been years since the LIVESTRONG bracelet boom seemingly created a whole new product genre overnight, sprinkling the world with little yellow silicone cancer-fighting bands and kicking awareness marketing into the mainstream. Since then, such bracelets have evolved from a simple novelty giveaway to a full-fledged promotional genre, complete with all the expectations, risks and challenges of any other product offering. Whether you're new to awareness bracelets or just looking to brush up on the basics, there are a handful of key introductory concepts you should know while working with the silicone wonders.
The first thing you should know before beginning your bracelet promotion is that the available product selection has grown far beyond the solid-colored silicone band with a simple debossed decoration. Within the suppliers interviewed for this feature alone (Alliance Rubber Company, BamBams and Buztronics), there are glow-in-the-dark bracelets, multicolor bracelets, fragrance-infused bracelets, extra-wide bracelets, extra-thin bracelets, watch bracelets and light-up L.E.D. bracelets. If you assume that even a quarter of this variety is repeated through the rest of the bracelet suppliers out there, there are plenty of choices out there for you if you or your client finds the standard silicone loop a little passé.
The other main idea to grasp before you begin is that awareness items can carry more emotional charge for end-users than others. "That's something about the awareness market," said Katie Hammel, promotional market manager for Alliance Rubber Company, Hot Springs, Ark. "It's something that's personal, it's emotional," she noted. She stated that because people often have a personal connection to the cause being advocated, be it through themselves or a family member, they tend to care a great deal about the items provided. This care can be a powerful promotional tool, but should also be a cause for cautious work since you're likely dealing with something close to a lot of people's hearts.
PLANNING YOUR ORDER
Once the bigger tasks of picking your bracelet and weaving through end-user emotions are complete, there are a couple more nuts-and-bolts concerns to sort through. For starters, you're going to want to brush up on your bracelet terminology and make sure you and your supplier are speaking on the same language wavelength. Hammel gave the example of bracelet lengths and how it can often cause confusion between supplier and distributor.