It’s easy to get lost in the world of drinkware, which is why you should get an expert’s opinion. We spoke to Jeff Batson, president of Next Products, Shelbyville, Ind., to learn what’s trending in drinkware, when high-end drinkware promotions work best and more.
Promo Marketing: Currently, what are some trends you’re seeing in drinkware?
Jeff Batson: The promotional market tends to follow retail markets, and so there [are] some ubiquitous promotional drinkwares, like stadium cups, that you don’t see too much in retail, but the trend I’m seeing is more towards the higher-end drinkware. And I think you can look to Yeti as an example. ... Certainly to have a drinkware piece that is vacuum insulated would qualify it as higher-end. ... So that’s one trend. Another trend that I’ve seen is less curvy, that the drinkware is tending to be more cylindrical. And in terms of colors, I don’t know if this applies just to drinkware, but in colors, matte finishes, especially darker matte finishes with a vivid decoration, we see a lot of that.
PM: Why do you think those trends are popular with end-buyers and end-users right now?
JB: I think the higher-end [drinkware] follows a trend in retail where people are buying less things—they’re looking for higher quality. The tech industry is probably driving a lot of that. If everything has cool tech gadgets, like a smartphone, the other products that you buy are kind of mimicking that higher value that you get from that. That’s my hypothesis.
In terms of colors and vivid colors, a lot of those follow the fashion industry. I know a number of drinkware companies, drinkware manufacturers, designers, that will go to fashion shows to get ideas on how to design their products. It’s probably not limited to drinkware. ... Last week I was in Hong Kong, and I was told that it’s not [a] coincidence that there is a fashion show a week before the housewares show. You would find drinkware in a housewares show, not just a gifts-and-premiums show.
PM: When do you think high-end drinkware works best in a promotion?
JB: Well, one, it can [be] a premium, or it can often cross over into being an incentive. A premium can be defined as, “I need to do something, and, therefore, at the end of it, I wish to receive a gift.” And so the gift is decorated promotionally, but it’s not necessarily a giveaway. And with a lot of those too, you see them as incentives, like if you do a lot of business with me, I’m going to give you a gift. So we see more and more with our higher-end drink products that a lot of the sales are coming in gift packs. So, we’re taking a single piece, but [clients] want the packaging that goes with it, and perhaps an accessory that goes with it, like a coaster or a wine opener perhaps—things like that. So we’re seeing our sales of gift packs that include drinkware going up. And I think there’s also a nice premium on packaging. ... It depends on the event or what your marketing purpose is, but there is certainly a trend to not just bulk pack things—people want to be delighted when they receive their promotional pieces or premium pieces or incentive pieces.
PM: Do you have a story about drinkware being used in an interesting or different way for a promotion?
JB: We have a prospective client, and what they want to sell is the drink that goes in [the drinkware]. It’s for weight control. ... Because they want recurring sales of the drink, they want their piece to be something that the end-user will want to keep. ... In other words, it’s not a throwaway or a giveaway item, it’s a keeper item. And although it’s got a nice, modern decoration, it’s not an overly sophisticated decoration. It just looks modern, sleek and clean. But it also has granulations on the side. In other words, [end-users can] fill it up to this level and [know how much they’re drinking]. This tumbler has augmented reality. So you scan it ... and up pops various choices related to the company and related to what [the person] will be drinking from that tumbler. So that’s pretty cool. It serves a couple purposes. One, you’ve got this promotional piece, this piece of drinkware, and it’s got some kind of logo marking on it. That’s point No. 1 of the piece. Point No. 2 is that it’s got a design that influences further purchases of something else. In this case, the drink that goes in the [tumbler]. And [No. 3], it’s got this cool feature where it’s got technology built into it. So there are three components that make this [an interesting promotion].
PM: What should distributors look for in drinkware suppliers?
JB: With drinkware, especially the higher-end drinkware, there seems to be more consideration on the part of the client of the decoration. ... [Clients] want to talk about how the decoration is going to fit the piece more. And in that case, I would say you would want [a] drinkware supplier with some consultative creative capabilities. In other words, you can call them up and have a little discussion on how the decoration might [look best] on the cup.