A Comforting Thought
MOST PEOPLE PROBABLY had a favorite stuffed animal or security blanket as kids—something soft and cuddly they clutched while sleeping, or maybe even dragged everywhere like Linus from Peanuts. Growing up causes the childhood bears and blankets to be abandoned, but the emotional hook that made them so important never really leaves. Instead, those feelings mature to include the related longings for luxury and relaxation that accompany adulthood.
Given the mental focus paid to such desires, an item that could become an omnipresent piece of comfort in someone’s life would certainly be of great value as a promotional product. Even though, too, there are many items that serve well in the comfort and luxury category, it is hard to pick against one of the best: the bathrobe.
THE PERKS OF LUXURY
Bathrobes are long-lasting, comfortable items that accompany some of life’s most relaxed moments: before bed, during breakfast or even after every shower. Offering more than mere comfort however, robes appeal to an intangible, almost
subconscius desire for pampering. Laura Lewis, promotional products, sales and marketing director for Deerfield Beach, Florida-based Boca Terry, elaborated on this selling point.
“What a luxury robe does for [end-users] is make them feel like they’re at the spa, make them feel like they’re having something luxurious,” she said. “It’s a great present because it really brings those feelings home.”
The more someone associates positive emotions with an item, the greater mindshare branding can maintain. However, though this type of response is tantamount to a marketing program, no robe will get past the starting gate without a solid, wearable design.
There are probably a few dozen permutations available when deciding on just what kind of robe to get, and so many choices may seem superfluous—waffle texture versus velour, Egyptian versus Turkish cotton, etc.—or simply a matter of taste. Yet, there are a few purchasing decisions to which some extra thought can be devoted.
The overall style of the robe would be one of these decisions. Sy Eren, vice president of Terry Town, Chula Vista, Calif., recommended the kimono pattern. “[Kimono-style] lends itself to the one-size-fits-all concept of robes more so than the hooded or shawl styles,” he explained. “A kimono-style robe has three-quarter-length sleeves, so if the person is small, the sleeves become a little bit longer, or if the person is tall, they’ll be slightly shorter, but still with an acceptable occurrence.”
Color, too, is a feature Eren noted as important. While white is the tried-and-true, Eren suggested venturing into other pigments is not something to fear. He added, “I think the colors, like in any other item, are key to generating sales. If you just offer white robes, you can generate some sales, but not as much or as many as if you had offered a nice selection of colors. If you can match colors with an event or a customer’s corporate color, then naturally they prefer that.”
Along with color, another design issue with robes arises in the imprinting process. Eren and Lewis both advocated embroidery over screen printing or other methods. Said Lewis, “We embroider because the nature of terry or velour just takes embroidery better. It really makes a quality piece. It just finishes beautifully and because a bathrobe is washed often, it also holds up through many washings.”
A more distinct variation on the robe that is growing in popularity is the bath or spa wrap. Eren
discussed the wrap’s rise. “Wraps are very popular this year. We’ve been selling 20 to 30 percent more wraps compared to the previous year. I really don’t know any explanation to that, other than maybe the popularity of spas.”
Eren also pointed out that unlike robes, wraps are gender-specific items, which could be advantageous depending on who the client is trying to target. Lewis shared a few other selling points
for wraps. “In or out of a shower, they’re very usable. Instead of a bathrobe, which tends to be very hot … if you’re blow-drying your hair or if you’re shaving, there’s no fabric that gets in the way,” she said.
Another, very timely, sales tactic Lewis suggested is capitalizing on how easily they can be packed: “What’s nice about wraps is they’re affordable, and they’re also very easy to travel with,” she said. “Because they’re small, they fold up nicely. You can travel with them and still have something that’s your own.”