It's easy to think you know everything about bottles and cups. Drinkware has been a popular product category for years, but QCA regulations and societal trends have changed how suppliers and consumers test, market and use water bottles. Here are 10 things you need to know about selling sports bottles in the new health-focused, eco-conscious and safety-testing United States.
1. Target Healthy People
Health clubs are obvious sells for sports bottles, but what about companies that sell to healthy people, like farmer's markets or juice bars? Jason Emery, vice president sales and marketing for Tagmaster/a division of Dard Products, Evanston, Ill., pointed out that carrying a water bottle is more common now that being healthy is trendy. "Consumers understand the importance of consuming water more now than they have in any recent time," he said. "As such, it is often that people carry with them their own water bottle or sport bottle throughout the course of the day," he added. Why couldn't those go-to water bottles be branded with your client's logo?
2. Use Full-wrap Imprints
If end-users are carrying bottles everywhere, you better make sure your client's logo is on display. "The best way to make a sports bottle or cup stand out is with a full-wrap imprint," said Brenda Cameron, marketing manager for Atlanta-based Justin Case. "This allows for maximum coverage of the bottle with the customers logo/message for maximum impact," she explained. She added four-color imprints as another good option, while Emery suggested screen prints or pad prints.
3. Add Bottles to Bag Promotions
"Sport bottles have quickly evolved to become more of an accessory these days as opposed to a promotional product," Emery noted. Users may not match a bottle or cup to their outfit, but they will consider it when picking a bag to carry since it needs to fit in a water bottle pocket.
4. Try New Materials
Plastic seems like the go-to for cups and sports bottles, but Cameron mentioned stainless steel and polyester (yes, polyester) are actually the best sellers. "Our stainless steel drinkware continues to be our number-one seller," she said. "We are also seeing greater interest in our Eastman Tritan copolyester drinkware," she added. "This material was introduced in 2007 as a safe alternative to polycarbonate." She added that copolyester has a glass-like look and more durable than alternative materials.
5. Don't Go Crazy with Color
Even though neons and brights are popular in other product categories, most end-buyers prefer classic, primary colors for drinkware. "The most popular colors for drinkware continue to be red, blue, black and green," Cameron stated.
6. Think Green
Cameron noted that many colleges and universities are turning to reusable water bottles in an effort to go green. "A lot of schools are banning one-use plastic water bottles due to the negative impact they have on the environment," she explained.
7. Turn to Nonprofits
You don't have to sell to Susan G. Komen for the Cure to get in with nonprofits. You can start with the local charity you support and offer water bottles for their next event. "Another popular market for drinkware is charitable and other organizations that do annual walks and runs to raise money," said Cameron. "Water bottles have always been a popular choice to hand out to the participants to keep them hydrated," she added.
8. Ask for Proof of Testing
Emery encouraged testing all bottles and cups. "It is important that anything that comes in contact with food or the mouth is tested by an unbiased third party testing facility," he said. He advised distributors to be wary of suppliers that are unwilling to provide proof of safety testing. "If a vendor is unable to provide you with the information requested, you are putting both yourself and your client at a great deal of unnecessary risk should the pieces sold be the focus of a recall or potential health issue with the recipient."
9. Safety Test Inks
You already know the importance of testing products, but what about the inks in imprints? "There are specific requirements as to the placement of inks on a piece of drinkware," said Emery. "Any such item that comes in contact with the mouth should be safety tested as should the ink being used to decorate," he added.
10. Start Selling Now
Though drinkware sales are steady year-round, the best times are spring and summer. "We find March through August is the busiest time of year due to an increase in outdoor activities such as: sporting events, company picnics, walks and runs for charities, golf tournaments, etc.," Cameron said.