Expert Advice: Landing Big Sales in Promotional Drinkware
In 1637, Rene Descartes gave us the immortal contention, “I think, therefore I am.” We mean no disrespect to the Frenchman, especially since his work has achieved renown in the annals of modern philosophy, but we bet that, being the brainy guy he was, he agonized over how to express certainty in his existence. For all we know, he might have initially declared, “I drink, therefore I am,” while polishing off a nice vintage. (We would have held him in much higher esteem had that been the case, by the way.) Beverages, whether intoxicating or not, serve our physical selves as reliably as deep thoughts assist our cerebral well-being. For instance, who could imagine hearing the age-old advice, “Eat, drink and be merry,” minus the middle element?
With the need to quaff comes the necessity to place beverages in a reliable holder, making drinkware as ubiquitous as end-users’ preferred potables. While many consumers couldn’t care less about how a container looks as long as they can quench their thirst, others find it fun to select and receive products that help them sustain their lives and add joy to their activities. Promotional drinkware offers numerous opportunities for companies to assist end-users in showing pride in their employment, community involvement, school and other areas. Promo Marketing talked to Kippie Helzel, senior vice president, sales, for CPS/Keystone, Erie, Pa.; and Kimberley Rose, senior account executive for Zing Manufacturing, Tempe, Ariz., to learn the ins and outs of promotional drinkware sales.
Drinking It All In
As the third-largest overall category in the industry, drinkware never figures to lack opportunities to impress the masses. Along with being a mandatory component of every end-user’s daily endeavors, promotional drinkware gives businesses the chance to use products that will encourage pride, feature jaw-dropping graphics or touching messages, and stand the test of time. With so many diverse ways to help end-users imbibe until they have had their fill, industry professionals should drink it all in and apply themselves to the pursuit of gaining drinkware distinction.
“Drinkware is one of those categories that I believe will never go away,” Helzel, whose company is celebrating its 25th anniversary in the industry, said of the category’s enduring popularity. “Styles may change, but the basic function and popularity won’t. We drink, therefore we need drinkware.”
In channeling her inner Descartes, Helzel reiterated an earlier point—drinkware is everywhere. This time of year provides ample occasions to ponder its universality, as warmer weather in most places will inspire more outdoor chances for end-users to bond and thus enjoy refreshments in various vessels. Even if people elect to entertain in their homes, though, or decide to enjoy a quiet spring or summer evening, they can likewise call on products to allow their cares to play second fiddle to their comforts.
Customized drinkware is so common that one might contend it sells itself and that anyone can achieve success in selling it, but many businesses have failed for making such assumptions about other frequently desired goods and services. Even if a campaign bears an initial burst of excitement, distributors need to be diligent to be able to drink to their commercial health.
“Staying in touch with clients, listening to demands of the market and continuing to improve drinkware materials are going to help to keep your customers happy,” said Rose, whose four-year-old company has made promotional drinkware a major focus. She added that
her business heeds its own advice by offering break-resistant glass water bottles that adhere to consumers’ desire to diminish use of their plastic counterparts.
Holding Their Own
With so many promotional drinkware styles available, one might wonder why reusable options don’t dominate end-users’ choices. The Environmental Protection Agency found that Americans discard 25 billion single-use cups annually and 2.5 million plastic beverage bottles every hour. Yes, said items can seem convenient, but their ramifications are costly and, obviously, provide no lasting impressions.
For CPS/Keystone (a proud supplier of what Helzel dubbed a “very straightforward” sport bottle that gave the company an early understanding of how reusable drinkware could be a reliable line item), emphasizing better alternatives has meant constantly considering ways not only to protect the environment, but also to have consumers draw compliments when they are doing so.
“Whether it’s an increase in demand for reusable water bottles due to increased environmental concerns, or a color or style trend, water bottles, travel tumblers, mugs and party cups will all have their place on all the tables and desks in America,” Helzel said.
Holding that end-users will never distance themselves from the latest retail trends, she added that price can claim distinction as a “significant deciding factor” to promotional drinkware’s average buyer and user. Therefore, distributors that can offer a trendy commodity at a similar price point will continue to create demand.
“And, as always, the standard, time-proven styles will always have a valuable niche, because they will be able to hold value pricing more effectively,” Helzel said.
With respect to trends, Rose lauded laser engraving and stainless steel construction as leading features end-users and buyers look for. The former, she said, is a terrific option for logos, while the latter is an eco-friendly choice that promotes “a presence that lasts a lifetime.”
Whenever end-users down their favorite drinks, they often find themselves preparing or asking for another. If distributors have achieved success in other categories, drinkware’s influence can be akin to that craving for supplemental swigs, and Helzel and Rose advocate for them to dip their toes in the water, wine, coffee, juice or whatever else end-users want to wet their whistles.
“Define the price point clearly so you can drill down to the best options to offer,” Helzel said. “Look for different color options to help make your customer’s brand stand out even more with a piece they will be happy to carry, regardless of the price point. Finally, know the properties and features of the item, and be sure to get samples in advance.”
Rose advised that distributors should be up-to-date on key promotional drinkware features, especially the difference between vacuum-insulated and double-walled stainless steel products, which she said are guaranteed to yield a commendable return on investment.
“Continue to stay knowledgeable,” she said. “Offer eco-friendly products to your clients, too. Lastly, consider ease of use, which comes from knowing your industry well. Know who wants what, and how to fulfill requests based on shapes, sizes and other factors.”
Related story: BIC Graphic Expert Series - Drinkware