Cloudy with a Chance of Sales
If you have ever experienced the pedestrian lifestyle of city living in the great Northeast then you know there are a few important tools you must have in your arsenal for bad-weather survival. The first is a no-brainer: comfortable waterproof shoes. You never want to go 15 blocks in your five-inch Jimmy Choo's. I don't care if Carrie Bradshaw made it look easy, that is where television and real life part ways. Number two: a warm coat, hat and gloves. While it may not have been cool to wear these things growing up in suburbia—where you run from the family SUV a few feet into the toasty warm school—city kids know the value of a good hat. And the last but definitely not least is the one item that should live large in every attaché case, purse and backpack: a high quality, never-lets-the-wind-turn-it-inside-out umbrella.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that 82.6 percent of Americans live in metropolitan areas. That equals a lot of folks in need of a good umbrella for their bag, a couple more in the car and one on standby in the office. Umbrellas offer a second-to-none imprint area, so all you distributors out there would be crazy not to offer up this essential item to every one of your end-buyers. "Umbrellas continue to be a strong promotional category because they are a strong consumer product," said Jeffrey Nanus, president of AAA Umbrella, Paramus, N.J. "They are not only a necessity but are literally a walking billboard that generates tremendous awareness."
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
Although the product itself is a necessity and does not require explanation, all of the features—from frames, fabric and handles to imprinting practices—can get confusing. Gary Libman, president of Storm Duds Raingear, Attleboro, Mass., recommended distributors become educated about the product and said the old adage of "buyer beware" should be adhered to with these products. "It's important that distributors understand there are many quality levels of umbrellas to choose, from low cost budget umbrellas to higher quality umbrellas. Remember, that cheap umbrella you sold your end-user might become the most expensive umbrella you ever sold [and] it may cost you a customer," he explained.