Let’s Make it Personal
THE FACT IS, people enjoy taking care of themselves. And with this innate self-preservation quality of humankind, it comes as no surprise it would bring rise to a bustling promotional product category that proclaims: “It’s just me, myself and I,” as was so
eloquently put by ’80’s hip-hip pioneers, De La Soul. Distributors looking to freshen up their bottom lines (and their sales pitches) should consider personal-care items. Manufacturers of these products say there are few other promotional product categories that offer the same repeat-order consistency.
A 2005 survey conducted by PPAI showed
personal-care products accounting for 1.58 percent of total industry sales. Just one year later, the category reported a 28 percent increase—making up 1.86 percent of total industry sales. These numbers may not seem very significant in the grand scheme of things, but when compared to other categories, such as electronics—which made up only 1.74 percent of industry sales in 2006—they are quite impressive.
But, all the talk has been about the repeat-order potential of personal-care items. According to Paul Weber, owner/president of Ingersoll, Ontario-based Profile Accessories—which specializes in abrasive products, including manicure files, foot files and nail buffers as well as specialty items, such as travel-size matchbook files—his company has enjoyed repeat orders at a rate of 30 percent over the last four years. “Many people would order two to three times a year,” he said. “It shows you that people like the product and ... are willing to [try] it again.”
Mel Ellis, president of Milwaukie, Oregon-based The Humphrey Line, agreed, stating personal-care items work well as promotional products because of reasons that characterize all effective ad specialty items—“Everybody uses them and they get repeated use, thus the advertising gets numerous impressions.”
Today’s end-users are looking for personal-care items that are “useful, have good quality and represent a good gift value,” Ellis continued. Consequently, in 2008, The Humphrey Line is introducing a full line of all-natural products packaged in recycled bottles. “We think these are going to be very attractive with the interest in all things green,” Ellis noted. The new products will include hand sanitizers, sunscreen, hand lotion, shampoo and conditioner, and lip balm.
Drawing from the days when his company coordinated bath accessories for large retailers, such as The Body Shop, as well as its current gig creating product for the Style Network, Weber said Profile Accessories prides itself on staying on top of fashion trends, particularly with color. “We say that we’ve got more colors than anyone else in the world,” he mused. Because the company manufactures its own sandpaper, it is able to offer a wide selection of manicure and pedicure files in stock colors as well as with PMS color matching.
In addition to keeping up with color trends in retail, Profile Accessories also offers a host of printed designs on its abrasive products. “We have a lot of abstract, floral and neat kinds of designs,” Weber noted. “If brown is in this year, or pink or orange, we do it.”
Ellis further confirmed the fashion industry’s impact on the personal-care category. “A few years ago, it was novel to offer lip balm with a custom label, and today it is commonplace,” he said. “This market moves very rapidly, and one of the ways we compete is through packaging design and decorating.”
To be successful in the selling of personal-care items, both Ellis and Weber advised distributors to promote quality—a factor that will ensure repeat orders. “The key to success for the
distributor is working with suppliers who offer quality items and really reliable service,” Ellis emphasized. He pointed to his company’s designation as an American manufacturer in a day when corporations are contending with “the numerous recalls of Chinese imports.”
Weber agreed with Ellis, noting the professional-grade quality of his company’s abrasive products. “Because we also produce products for aestheticians and spas, end-users are getting a professional-quality
product for use in a promotional environment,” he said. Under normal use, Weber said the products can last for more than a year.
Before making the sale, however, Ellis cautioned distributors to be aware many personal-care items are subject to FDA regulations. “Distributors should be highly knowledgeable about the ingredients used, the production processes employed and the reliability of the supplier,” he said. “Compliance with FDA regulations, and the health and safety of the end-user should be real concerns for distributors.”
Ellis said suppliers “who bring good product and service to this market” will win. Weber agreed, stating that “making sure products are sanitizable and materials are environmentally friendly,” are also a part of the winning ticket. “As long as we follow the fashion trends, health trends and environmental issues, we should be able to continue to soar,” he concluded. In
this writer’s personal opinion, he might be right.