The Economy of Gastronomy
MOVE OVER, LIVING room—you're so '90s. The kitchen is the new centerpiece of the American household.
According to a study by the Electrolux Group, the average American family spends 175 hours a month in the kitchen, compared to just 31 hours in the living room—but you don't need statistics to see the way the kitchen has captured hearts, minds and stomachs. There are TV networks devoted to cooking (and, more recently, eating). There are social networks seemingly devoted entirely to recipe-sharing (we dare you to go on Pinterest and not gain 10 pounds). And, in perhaps the most telling development, the phrase "tile backsplash" has entered the vernacular.
The kitchen is the place to be, is what we're saying—especially if you're a promotional products distributor. So what are you waiting for? Capitalize on the culinary craze with these six sales tips.
1. Favor the Functional
Kitchens come in all sizes and styles, from stainless-steel-and-granite Ikea-showroom recreations to cinderblock-walls-and-a-microwave college dorms, but they all share one dark, dirty secret: the miscellaneous items drawer. It's the Bermuda Triangle of storage spaces, the place where obscure, over-specialized utensils vanish in a tangle of aluminum and plastic—and you don't want your client's promotional kitchen items to end up there.
That's why Dan Norris, president of Starline USA Inc., Grand Island, N.Y., recommended functional items people will use often, as well as items designed to be kept in the open. "These products are designed with both look and function taken into consideration," he said. "With wooden knife blocks or bamboo cutting boards that will remain on the countertop for daily use, to wine and cheese accessories for entertaining, these products will be on display with logos prominently displayed."
2. Find the Right Market
Food-related industries such as restaurants, grocery stores, catering companies and the like are obvious markets to target, but Sarah Sumner, sales and marketing coordinator for Bay State Specialty Co., Middleboro, Mass., noted that just about any industry can make use of kitchen products. "Every end-user has a kitchen and will find these products useful," she said. "Any industry that provides home services, such as contractors, cleaning services, food delivery and propane/oil delivery services could all use kitchen items related to their service."
Chris Flynn, national sales manager for Owosso, Michigan-based TARGETLINE, mentioned other potential markets for kitchen items. "Many of the kitchen or household product orders I see are for the insurance and real estate industries," he said. "As we see the housing market start to bounce back we are starting to see more and more orders come through."
3. Go Local
Flynn also suggested targeting "local communities and smaller local business districts," as many municipalities have increased their marketing budgets in a push to drive local business and small-scale tourism. "Communities are doing more to market themselves as a premier locale to visit, shop or live and many smaller business districts are starting to see the value in promotional products as well," he explained.
Sumner described a promotion where one newly opened local business wanted to connect with residents in the community. In conjunction with several other likeminded local businesses, the company held an ice cream social and distributed branded ice cream scoops to the crowd. "The scoops were used and handed out to all guests," Sumner said. "Some businesses chose to provide a cash donation, and others volunteered time scooping ice cream. It was a great way for neighborhood businesses to give back to community and express thanks."
4. Suggest a Set
Items like cheese graters, pie servers and can openers all work well for kitchen promotions, but end-users won't often need more than one in their kitchens. Consider pitching items that offer more opportunity for reorders. "A product category that is very high on repeat business is our adhesive note pads and cubes," Flynn noted. "The kitchen is where many people keep their lists, and these note pads are always useful." Norris pointed to knife sets, individual utensils or other items that form complementary sets. "These allow for repeat orders, as clients want to collect the full set of products," he said.
5. Get in the Holiday Spirit
Bundling items together to form a gift basket is another way to boost sales, especially around the holidays. Norris described a promotion where one client gave away a red oven mitt as a makeshift Christmas stocking, stuffing it with various barbecue-themed kitchen items. "The clients loved the gift and how every part of it was useable—[there was] no wrapping paper or tissue to throw out," he explained.
6. Be Creative
Sometimes, the best items for kitchen promotions aren't kitchen items at all. No, we're not suggesting you pitch golf balls or exercise mats to your next restaurant client (though either would probably work, under the right circumstances), but a little outside-the-box thinking can go a long way toward a successful promotion.
Flynn gave the example of a home-appliance dealer that included screen-cleaning lens cloths, originally designed for cleaning glasses and touchscreen electronics, as part of a promotion. "Their logo was sublimated in full color along with a list of the do's and don'ts of kitchen safety," he said. "They gave them away with each microwave and touchscreen appliance purchase. They were a big hit with their customers and the distributor has already placed a repeat order."