IT’S TIME TO rethink everything that’s previously been said about promotional bags and luggage. No more are the items, particularly bags, confined to the category of “trade show giveaway” or subjected to “who-would-want-that” scrutiny. A new day of higher-end luxury bags and luggage has dawned. The incentive bags and luggage category is ever expanding to include a variety of tasteful items worthy of gift-giving and receiving. Clients should know that long before the plane sets off to the Caribbean carrying 50 of its top salespeople to a well-deserved four-day, three-night stay at an exotic resort, they would do well to throw in a classy leather weekender for a well-rounded trip.
Coming in a close third only behind diamonds and shoes, bags also find themselves bearing that coveted title as a “girl’s best friend.” However, when it comes to promotional products, both men and women can appreciate the gift of a high-end incentive bag or luggage set.
Latico Leathers, Denville, N.J, offers a wide range of bags in a variety of sizes, shapes, leathers and colors. “For incentives and awards, our best sellers are designs that are suitable for a mixed group of women and men, but we also have designs [that are] ideal for a group of women or men,” noted Michael Schreiber, vice president.
The primary purpose of an incentive is to motivate. And what better way to motivate employees than with an attractive leather brief donning the company’s name or logo? To take it a step further, consider this: Even after the employee has moved on from the company, the employee is likely to continue using the item at his or her new place of business, further exposing the former employer’s message or logo. Note: most people carrying around leather bags imprinted with the IBM logo probably aren't employed by IBM. “A leather weekender is a powerful incentive for employees to achieve their sales or productivity goals and/or other measurable criteria,” noted Schreiber. “The employees can be motivated to make the extra effort if they know a beautiful leather bag is the reward that awaits them.”
It’s one thing to know that a beautiful bag awaits them, but it’s quite another to know that a beautiful name brand product is the prize at hand. Dean Resnekov of Mt. Prospect, Illinois-based Indigo, said bag and luggage items from the popular retail brand Tumi, which his company manufacturers, are ideal for the brand-conscious customer. “[Tumi is] a great luxury brand, it has name recognition and it is a quality product,” he said, pointing out that name brand products are on the rise. “Brands are currently the trend. Clients are asking for them and distributors are realizing that they can supply them.”
Besides their obvious appeal in utility, incentive bags and luggage are part of those rare promotional products that have a high-perceived value—something businesses will find helpful when trying to woo high-tier customers. “Leather bags have high-perceived value, they make a very positive impression on the recipient and therefore reflect well on the gift giver,” noted Schreiber. “Some people may not go out and buy a leather bag for themselves, so they’re delighted to receive one as a gift or award.”
He continued: “The message clearly communicated to the recipient is, ‘You’ve done a great job, you’re an important part of this organization, and your efforts are acknowledged and appreciated.’”
Both Schreiber and Resnekov agreed that the lines between promotional and retail bags have all but disappeared. The items are often of the same quality and construction, which has caused sales to balloon in recent years. “Luggage sales have continually increased post-September 11,” said Resnekov. “Clients love the reliability of brands and are willing to pay a premium for them.”
Like leather bags, Schreiber said leather duffels carry the same weight as a great incentive gift. “Leather duffles will also be used on a regular basis by the recipient and/or their family members, and not just thrown into a closet,” he explained. “That ongoing usage perpetuates positive feelings toward the gift giver for many years.”
Incentive bags and luggage can be sold to a variety of professional markets, including pharmaceutical, finance, banking, credit cards and beverages. Schreiber said Latico Leathers has found success with its products in the entertainment, financial/insurance, sports, food and beverage, television/radio, hospital/medical and publishing markets. “Any company interested in gift-giving that generates a long-lasting positive impression should consider leather bags,” he said.
Latico Leathers’ products can be found in department stores, boutiques, luggage shops, gift shops and specialty stores throughout the United States. Schreiber said the company’s designs easily and successfully cross over to the award and incentive marketplace, setting the company apart from other leather goods suppliers that don’t compete in the retail market. “Indeed, thanks to our retail experience, Latico is well positioned to take advantage of the promotional products industry’s growing interest in fashion and market trends,” he said. He further pointed out, since Latico Leathers’ designs are retail proven, “distributors and end-users can be confident these bags incorporate a variety of desirable and useful features and amenities, and they also stand the test of time.” In addition, Latico provides private label merchandise for many leading retail catalogs.
Indigo has also found success with its retail-driven products. “It is tremendous for us, as we are well situated to help distributors as their clients are more and more brand aware,” noted Resnekov.
With the popularity of the Tumi brand, Resnekov is certain his stay in the industry will not be an overnight one. “As long as buyers are looking for quality premium branded merchandise, we will be just fine,” he said. “The goal is to teach distributors that they can provide luxury brands to their clients. [The items] sell themselves, so it should be an easy sell for any distributor.”
When the plane lands and the executives debark to gather around the console to find their bags, hopefully the recognizable top-grain leather weekender with the company logo embedded into the brushed metal plate on the front will give them a bit of pride as they board the ground transportation provided by the company to head to the resort that’s been paid for by the company.