Coffee. it's as much a part of your morning routine as brushing your teeth, taking a shower or muttering obscenities at other commuters on your way to work. According to livescience.com, Americans consume 450 million cups of coffee per day, with 68 percent of coffee drinkers having their first cup within an hour of waking up. And according to Promo Marketing's crack team of mathematicians, that's, like, a whole lot of coffee being consumed in the a.m.
That means two things: one, we should probably seek help for our collective caffeine addiction, and two, there's an enormous market for mugs and tumblers. But how best to tap into that market? You could offer a basic mug with a one-color imprint, sure, but that's more likely to end up collecting dust in the back of a crowded cabinet than impressions on a crowded train. Instead, let the following tips be your guide to brewing up a bold promotion with mugs and tumblers.
1. Try Gradients
"Color can change the whole appearance of an item and really set it apart," said Scott Pearson, vice president of merchandise and design for Sweda Company LLC, City of Industry, Calif. He explained that in addition to the ability to screen and pad print multiple colors, advanced four-color process techniques now allow for enhanced gradation (gradually blending of one tint or tone with another). "At the right quantities you can take an ordinary item and make it extraordinary by simply changing the color attributes of the product," he noted.
Color effects aren't the only way to enhance the appearance of a mug or tumbler. "Matte rubber coating on stainless is my favorite look right now," said Caro Krissman, president of ROI Lines, Los Angeles, Calif., parent company of industry supplier Source Abroad. "It makes the mug look tough and sets it aside from the crowded stainless bottle and mug segment."
3. Experiment with Texture
Mindy Hoffmann, drinkware category manager for Leed's, New Kensington, Pa., explained that textural enhancements such as debossed imprints can provide a high-end look and feel. Pearson agreed, and noted that such features aren't limited to the actual mug or tumbler itself. "We can also deboss leather or silicone sleeves," he said.
4. Use Walls Wisely
"For double-walled items with a clear outer wall, you can imprint on the inner wall, which protects the art and raises the perceived value even further," Pearson explained. He related an anecdote where a well-known women's clothing company wanted an item for an in-store Mother's Day promotion. "We designed a custom pink 360-degree wrap imprint on the inner wall of a clear item," Pearson said. "The item and the customization completely embodied the simple and sexy persona of the company. The items were delivered on time to all stores and distribution was seamless—the event was a smash."
5. Look into Lids
Much like a waiter at a restaurant, a good lid should enhance your experience without being a distraction. Oh, and it should never spill stuff all over you. "Spill-proof lids for tumblers are evolving and are super-cool," noted Krissman. "We have one with a button-press top that seals the lid from spilling."
Innovative lid designs can add significant value to a mug or tumbler. Hoffmann pointed out that in addition to button-press lids, tumblers can feature two lids—one with a built-in straw for cold drinks, one with a twist opening for hot beverages.
6. Let there Be Light
Unsure if crazy colors, debossed leopard print leather sleeves, transparent outer walls and high-tech lids are enough to generate impressions? No problem. Just have your mug or tumbler light up like a signal flare. "The ultimate enhancement is light," said Michael Horn, national sales manager for HOWW Manufacturing, Barrington, Ill. "We offer several mugs in one-, three- or five-light options in various colors. They blink, spin or remain on constantly, providing the maximum impact."
7. Bundle Up
Pearson recommended stuffing a mug or tumbler with additional items such as T-shirts, pens, coffee or tea bags to further enhance the perceived value of the product. "You can really up your sale by bundling additional items packaged in one item," he explained.
Horn described a promotion where a large Texas-based company held a barbecue and beer fest for its employees, and wanted an interesting way to deliver T-shirts featuring a motivational slogan. "We imprinted the mugs with the company logo on one side and the slogan on the other," he said. "The company rolled up the tees and put them inside the mug, and each employee was given a beautiful collectors mug and a T-shirt when they arrived at the event."
8. Rock the Box
"Offering a decorated gift box can do a lot for you," said Krissman. "It can greatly enhance perceived value by providing a retail look and feel, it can increase decoration area and it can help prevent damage or breakage, especially on ceramics."
Horn explained that mugs and tumblers generally feature large imprint areas and can accommodate a variety of designs ranging from logos to photos, making them great products for co-branding promotions. "Beer or food festivals love to show the event on one side and the sponsor on the other," he added.
10. Find a Reliable Supplier
Of course, none of these tips matter if your client orders 35,000 mugs and only receives 3,500. "Partner with a supplier that is reliable, offers a variety of products, can decorate in a variety of ways and offers top-notch service," said Horn. "Matching a promotion to the client's needs, providing a quality, compelling product and managing expectations effectively will result in a successful program and return business."