Plugged In: What's New and What's Selling in Tech Promotional Products
You know, we really are disappointed that we don’t have flying cars yet. All those movies and TV shows made it sound like the 2000s would be full of chrome and spaceships, and we are drastically behind schedule.
That’s not to say we haven’t made incredible technological advancements though. And what seemed like groundbreaking technology not so long ago, like the iPod, is now out of date. Things move fast.
So, you’d be forgiven if you’re a little behind on what end-users are looking for when it comes to tech items. But that’s what the experts are here for. We spoke to a few suppliers about what tech products their customers want, what trends are driving this demand and how distributors can stay hip to what’s happening even when things feel a little daunting.
Get Your Groove On
Products that play music, like Bluetooth speakers or headphones, are some of the most popular tech items on the market today. If you ask Dan Jellinek, executive vice president of The Magnet Group, Washington, Missouri, the beauty of a product like this is that it’s a blank slate for the end-user. It can be whatever they want it to be: a music player, a podcast machine, a meeting amplifier—you name it.
“One thing that I love about Bluetooth speakers and earbuds is, as a premium item for a customer, they can pick which music they want to listen to,” Jellinek said. “It really becomes a universal product for men and women of all ages. Somebody wants to listen to rock music? Great. Whatever they want to pair up on their phone, they have. It’s a totally universal gift for men and women of all ages and provides a lot of utility and enjoyment. It’s a win.”
Aside from music, the trend of working from home has created demand for products like earbuds that allow for hands-free calls while roaming around the home office (or invading the home office refrigerator), or driving for some mid-day errands.
“It now has, yes, an enjoyment [factor] through exercise, whatever it may be, but now it has a business application,” Jellinek added. “From a safety standpoint, you don’t want people holding their phones, whether it’s in the car traveling around [or] whether it’s working from home like me. When I’m home, like now ... I’m walking around. I’m walking around holding my phone.”
This new remote work lifestyle that so many people live has also created demand for items like charging banks, so end-users can be sure to keep their devices charged for the next big call or meeting. They also work for when you’re returning to the office either full time or in a hybrid format, or for students returning to the classroom for the first time.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth in the power sector with Qi wireless chargers and power banks,” said Mariah Wakeling, vice president and creative director of iClick, Seattle. “Qi chargers make great office [or] desktop gifts, whether you’re continuing to WFH or going back to the office, so they’re a definite value-add to new hires and current employees alike. And power banks have been a big hit with students, delivery drivers and more. Having that extra battery boost while you’re on campus or on the road is invaluable. Not only is power popular right now, but the field of products available is constantly evolving with better battery life, faster charging and even more functionality. Most wireless chargers and power banks are going multifunctional so you’ll never want to be without it.”
No one wants to sound like a dinosaur when they’re talking to clients. Don’t call an iPhone a “Walkman,” for example. Definitely don’t mention that Betamax was ever a thing! But, if you’re not taking note of every single trend and development, how can you stay on top of things?
“There are many ways to stay up to date with the latest tech products,” said Steffany Rivera, marketing manager for KTI Networks/KTI Promo, Houston. “You can learn a lot through social media. Distributors are sharing tons of resources on social media on a daily basis. The resources vary from images to videos and flyers. I also think that a good way to stay informed is to reach out to your tech suppliers for a presentation or get involved in supplier webinars. Attending trade shows is the best way to stay up to date with all the new tech products. Always try to visit at least two to three tech supplier booths so you can experience the products with all of your senses.”
“Suppliers can be your greatest resource for product education and sales ideas that provide the best solution your client didn’t even know they needed,” Wakeling said. “I would also suggest signing up for email blasts, as that can be where you find out about the latest new products rather than having to sift through a website to find out what’s new. We also provide product education, case studies and more through our emails.”
You don’t have to be Bill Gates to be successful in tech products. All you have to do is put yourself in your end-user’s shoes. What makes your work day easier? What do you wish you had when you were out on the road traveling that fits in your backpack or your pocket? What do your kids want for their birthdays?
With that in mind, and maybe some help from your supplier partners, you’ll look like the most tech-savvy distributor in town. You’ll still have to wait on the flying cars, though.