There are 128.3 million commuters and 100 million daily coffee drinkers in the U.S. alone, according to statisticbrain.com. How much those numbers overlap is difficult to say, but it's hardly a stretch to imagine there's significant crossover—if you're a commuter, you know that hot coffee is the only thing keeping America's roadways from devolving into Mad Max-style carnage each morning.
Does that make the travel mug or tumbler the most important invention of the last century? Possibly. Does it mean you should be pitching them every chance you get? Definitely. Mugs and tumblers are must-haves for businesses looking to reach those millions of caffeine-hungry commuters (and millions more at-home coffee-drinkers), and if you're not selling them, you're missing out on an enormous market. So, give your sales a boost (and do your part to stave off the rush-hour apocalypse) with these five tips for mug and tumbler success.
1. Go Beyond the Basics
There's nothing wrong with a ceramic C-handle mug. Lots of businesses use them—restaurants, corporate offices, banks, etc.—and no kitchen is complete without a handful of them jockeying for space in the cabinet. But that can have drawbacks. If everyone already has a cabinet stuffed with mugs, it lessens the chance a given mug will stand out (if the recipient keeps it at all). And if all you're offering are basic mugs, that could make prospective clients more hesitant to buy.
So why not change things up? "Show a variety of decoration techniques—one color, one position is boring," said Jim Kelley, director of sales and marketing for Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Xpres LLC. He mentioned everything from four-color sublimated graphics and glaze finishes to imprints on the mug or tumbler's handle and underside.
The same approach also applies to travel mugs and tumblers. "The recent trend has been moving away from the basic stainless travel coffee mug to tumblers with unique added features," explained Scott Pearson, vice president of merchandising, and Natalie Chou, product development manager, for Sweda Company LLC, City of Industry, Calif. "These additions range from custom grips and print patterns to added features such as fruit infusers or unique lid functions."
2. Try Multifunctional Items
Drinkware and "multifunctional" don't typically go hand in hand. For one thing, mugs and tumblers have a single, clearly defined function—holding beverages—that hasn't required much tweaking since man chiseled the first crude drinking vessel from his cave wall. For another, what else can you do with a mug or tumbler, really? A lot, according to Janine Cannici, marketing communications manager for VisionUSA, Rahway, N.J. "Our goal is to provide a functional product coupled with a fresh design," she said.
She gave the example of a soup mug that includes a wide, bowl-like base, a spoon and a lid, allowing recipients to use it as both a mug and a bowl. "Creating multifunction items offers flexibility in use," Cannici explained. "We see a ton of activity in the health care industry as a gift to nurses and staff, in the education field for use by teachers and administrators, and from HR departments to employees in conjunction with a wellness program."
3. Think Big With Decoration
Big imprints are (unsurprisingly) big for most promotional items. Branching out from the standard one-location imprint with wraps or inserts is one way to make the most of a mug or tumbler's decoration area and go "big." "We always focus on maximizing the 'billboard' imprint space," Kelley said. "We love full-wrap designs."
"We offer screen print, pad print and full-color digital paper inserts," added Cannici. "The digital paper inserts are the most popular, allowing for a full-color reproduction of any artwork or advertising message both inside and outside. It allows the drinkware to become a mini billboard on the go."
4. Offer Add-ons
If you know the particular market a client is buying drinkware for, try offering additional products that might be useful in that market. "We suggest following up with an additional idea—for example, when a desk mug is ordered we go ahead and print a desk caddy or an apothecary jar and send it to the distributor," Cannici explained. "When the distributor follows up with the end-user they have another idea showing their logo ready to go. We have seen much success with this and most times it leads to an additional order."
5. Get Serious About Safety
Drinkware must comply not only with the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Prop. 65) and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), but also with FDA regulations. That's a lot to keep track of, making it important to study up on drinkware compliance requirements and work with trusted suppliers. "Know who you are buying from and what materials they are using," Cannici advised. "We offer product test data on every item in our line to provide peace of mind as well as using the safest raw materials and our own factories."