Pouring It On
The basic amenities aren't enough anymore. Regular coffee? Heck no, we want a soy caramel macchiato with a flavor shot of vanilla. Movies on DVD? Only if they're Blu-ray and include eight hours of outtakes, vignettes and making-of documentaries with director commentary. And umbrellas? We don't even want to hear about them unless they can fly us around, Mary Poppins-style.
Okay, we're still probably three or four years away from the invention of the flying umbrella (fingers crossed), but we've come a long way from the Gene Kelly, Singin' in the Rain days of basic black, wood-handle designs. In fact, according to The New Yorker, as of 2008 the United States Patent and Trademark Office had "more than three thousand active patents on umbrella-related inventions," effectively making umbrellas the soy caramel macchiatos of the promotional products industry.
Consumers want options, they want additional features that increase the bang to buck ratio—and that's where umbrellas shine. With that in mind, here are eight ways to add that proverbial flavor shot to your umbrella promotion.
1) VENT A LITTLE
Umbrellas are a bit like parachutes: you expect them to work every time, and if they fail at a critical moment, your day is pretty much ruined. Fortunately, improvements in wind-proofing technology have resulted in more reliable umbrellas, making it possible for anyone to navigate a driving rainstorm without incident.
"Wind-venting is a popular design that adds to the durability of the product and allows [it] to withstand heavy gusts without failing," said Todd Blackmar, vice president of Haas-Jordan by Westcott, Toledo, Ohio. He explained that, unlike conventional wind-proofing, which utilizes a spring to return to the umbrella to its original shape after inverting, venting allows wind to actually pass through the canopy, eliminating altogether the possibility of inversion. "An umbrella that fails the customer at his most vulnerable time, in the rain, may be memorable in a negative way," he added.