Best Foot Forward: 3 Ways to Use Custom Socks and Footwear in Your Clients’ Branded Campaigns
Everyone wears socks and/or some form of footwear. That might be stating the obvious, but what makes this such an impactful point is this: Because socks are a universally worn garment, they make the perfect item for a branded campaign.
Not only are custom socks an easy-to-sell item, they’ve also exploded in popularity for everything from employee and corporate gifts to sports uniform wear, festival attire and more. Whether the star of the show or an ancillary add-on, custom socks and footwear should be a part of every distributor’s pitch. Read on for three ways to use custom socks and footwear in your clients’ branded campaigns.
1. The Main Item
Since socks are worn by nearly everyone, they can be the star of the promotional show on their own. “Socks are becoming increasingly popular as the main giveaway at trade shows, as donor gifts, and even as corporate gifts,” said Ayla Lambert, content marketing manager for Sock Club, Austin, Texas. “Athletic socks with cushion and compression are becoming increasingly popular as the main promotional gift in the health and wellness space, as well as race and fundraiser events like 5Ks.”
As such, it’s a no-brainer when pitching this to virtually any client as the main giveaway for their campaign. But more than being versatile, there are other qualities that make socks desirable. “We see [socks] as a main item [because] they are relatively inexpensive but have a high perceived value,” said Sam Moses, CEO and president of Sockrates, Boca Raton, Florida. “When people pick up a high-quality sock, the first thing they think is it’s not cheap.”
Another quality that makes socks an attractive item to use as the main component of a branded campaign is the decorating options. For example, Moses pointed out that not only can the sock itself be customized with the client’s logo, images and other color-matched designs, but custom labels can also be utilized. The label on custom socks can be fully customizable with a phone number or website, so that’s an additional branding or marketing opportunity. “[The end user] will think about the client who gave it to them every time they put it on,” Moses said.
Aside from socks, custom shoes and other promotional footwear have a place as the centerpiece of a branded campaign. “Promotional footwear is perfect for giveaways for a new product launch, company stores, sports teams, etc.,” said Kelly Yarborough, CEO of Sock 101, Lee’s Summit, Missouri. “Shoes are appealing to a large growing group called ‘sneaker heads.’ … Clients are always looking for new things they have not seen, and custom shoes are the answer.”
2. Add-Ons and Kits
Perhaps you have a client that’s already selected a main item for a branded giveaway—a tote bag or water bottle. Socks can still play a part in these campaigns as well. Lambert had a few ideas right off the bat: “Whether they are new-hire packages, donor packages, alumni kits, or drop-shipped employee appreciation or engagement gift kits, branded socks are often used as an add-on.”
But she also pointed out the obvious: Socks are one-size-fits-most, so things like sizing don’t need to be coordinated in advance. That makes them a perfect last-minute add-on. “Socks are practical and useful, meaning your branded socks will deliver impression after impression from your target audience,” said Lambert.
Arguably one of the most popular ways socks work as an add-on product is simply being part of a larger branded kit. Moses noted that when a client has already spent a higher amount on a kit that contains a hoodie, water bottle, and bag, for example, socks are an inexpensive, easy add that won’t break the bank while still filling out the kit. “The sock is a cheaper item to fill the box, adds personality to the box and is appealing,” he added.
And of course, if custom shoes are the main item, it’s almost a crime not to add matching custom socks. Yarborough lists everything from traditional shoes to slippers and more as falling in this space. “[It’s] easy to upsell socks when a client is buying custom shoes,” he pointed out. “A perfect example of this would be adding custom fuzzy slippers to a holiday kit or a work-from-home kit. If they are looking for something more budget friendly, fuzzy socks is another great option.”
Custom shoes themselves can work as part of a complete kit, too. “Shoes can be a premium gift once paired with a custom shoe box,” Yarborough said. Top that off with a lower-cost item like socks, and you’ve got a winning kit.
Lambert did note that there are certain times of the year where kits become more popular. “We see a spike in interest in kits surrounding specific events or holidays, like Christmas, Employee Appreciation Day and National Nurses Week,” she said. “Socks can increase the value [of a kit] because they represent a daily staple in the consumer’s life. … The value of the promotional kit increases with a useful product that the recipient will go back to time and time again.”
3. E-Commerce Opportunities
The world was already moving toward e-commerce, and the pandemic fast-tracked the process. Now, with so many people doing their shopping online, many distributors are seeing a rise in e-commerce shopping sites and pop-up shops. Custom socks and footwear are a natural fit here, as well.
“[Socks are] an easy-to-grab item on e-commerce,” said Moses. “It’s easy to display [and it’s] clear what the design is digitally. … You don’t have to worry about the size or whether it will look good. What you see is what you get.” Moses also pointed out that since socks are lower cost, buyers often don’t hesitate to add them to their carts last-minute, as they don’t add significantly to the grand total cost.
Custom shoes might seem harder to build into an online promotional campaign or pop-up shop, but that’s not necessarily the case. “Shoes are new, and they excite clients because they haven’t been done well before,” said Yarborough. Sock 101’s custom shoes are printed before they are cut and sewn together, so there are no bleeding issues or details being cut off.
Ultimately, custom branded socks and footwear fit into just about any campaign, physical or via e-commerce. “You get a lot of feedback on [them],” said Moses. “Anything with footwear is the ultimate accessory. … For socks, you know everyone will wear them. They’ll think about the client who gave it to them every time they put it on.”