In 1987, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey mamboed straight into the hearts of audiences everywhere in Dirty Dancing. In addition to eye candy and killer choreography, the movie contributed one of pop culture's most beloved gems: "Nobody puts Baby in the corner."
The promotional world has its own version of "Baby"—mugs and tumblers. Only here, the goal is to avoid the corner of a crowded cabinet. But as more people fill, sip and go to their destination, how do you get your products to collect impressions instead of dust? Start by studying the trends.
Here are seven quick tips to ensure your mug and tumbler promotions aren't running (or dancing) on empty.
1. Get The Look
Functional handles and additives such as filters and mixers can add a new spin to a classic design. "There is room in the marketplace for multifunction, high-tech designs for tumblers and mugs. What was new and eye-catching just a few years ago, like a double-wall stainless tumbler is now becoming passé," noted T. Regan Holm, CAS, COO of ROI Line by Source Abroad, Los Angeles. "[Include] a carabiner and a colored rubber grip, or a compartment to add flavor to your beverage of choice, and suddenly it's relevant in today's marketplace."
2. Embrace Color
According to Holm, pastels and bright colors continue to remain popular. Anna Ramos, V.P. sales of Berney-Karp Inc., Vernon, Calif., has also seen a preference for two-tone mugs. "Two-tone mugs with rubber coasters to match the inside or imprint are hot," she said.
3. Take Advantage of All Imprint Options
Mugs and tumblers generally feature large imprint areas and can accommodate designs ranging from photos to variable printing. Paula Piano, director of sales and marketing for Las Vegas-based Visstun, is seeing an upward trend in full-color, high-definition printing. "Customers are no longer restricted to one-color imprints, but are now able to have photographs printed on cups with the additional options of QR codes and variable printing," she said.
Certain designs even allow companies to imprint text and logos in unusual areas such as along the handle. Mark Godsey, president of Gold Bond Inc., Hixson, Tenn., has observed a preference for tall, slim designs. "This creates an elegant presentation and allows the option to print vertical and wrap imprints," he said.
4. Box It Up
Godsey recommended packaging tumblers as gifts. "The most common trend we're seeing right now is using tumblers as gifts," he said. "It is for this reason that tumblers with gift boxes are becoming more and more popular."
5. Brush Up on Safety Regulations
Stan W. A. Dohan, MAS, executive vice president of The Allen Company, Blanchester, Ohio, advised distributors to partner up with suppliers that are wellversed in the laws and regulations behind these products. Because The Allen Company offers more than 650 drinkware products, it is quite familiar with product safety requirements associated with the item, inks and imprinting methods.
"Consumer product safety, FDA and tightening regulations continue to add a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy," Dohan pointed out. "Fortunately, The Allen Company also leads the way as we did with California Prop 65, the development and use of triton material and the elimination of plastics and polycarbonates which leach BPA."
6. Ask the Right Questions
Open communication with your clients seems like a no-brainer, but Ramos believes this is lacking. "Most distributors just take the order and don't ask any questions," she said. "It seems like they are afraid of losing the order if they ask any questions."
Always start with the basics. For instance, what is the goal? The budget? When is the event? Dohan advised distributors to ask how the product will be used. While this may seem like a straightforward question, sometimes it is forgotten. It is particularly important if children may be the recipients. "As soon as you imprint Winnie the Pooh or the like on [a coffee mug], it becomes a children's product," Dohan said. "Or, [ask] if there's going to be any distribution in states with very litigious and stringent laws on the product, inks and the like, such as California or Minnesota."
Perhaps Piano summed it up best. "It's important for you, as the distributor, to be asking the right questions rather than answering the obvious ones," she said. "Asking the right questions will lead a customer to the best product that will deliver the best results."
7. Give the Right Answers
On the flip side, distributors are expected to know about the product they're selling. Holm listed the kinds of questions end-buyers might ask, and that you will need to know the answers to. 'What kind of quality can I get for my budget range?' Another is, 'Does the product meet all regulated laws and compliance standards?' 'Why should I pay for double-wall, does it really make a difference with tumblers?' 'What about vacuum insulation?'" she said. "Finally, 'Is this product OK to microwave, or put in the dishwasher?'"