For three to six months out of the year (sometimes longer if you live farther north), a jacket is the first thing others see on you. Sure, a big, puffy coat handed down from a much older cousin with a penchant for cat imprints is warm, but what impression is it giving? Your clients want coats that not only make the wearer look good, but their brand too. Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you sell gear for winter 2014/2015.
1. Stick with What You Know
When it comes to promotional hard goods, the basic premise is simple: pick item, add logo. Jeff Silcock, marketing manager for Stormtech Performance Apparel, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, explained that jackets are no different. "End-buyers are typically looking for a good quality, functional and stylish jacket that matches the company colors and can be decorated without jeopardizing the integrity of the jacket," he said.
2. Match the Material to the Job
Jessica Strain, marketing manager for Dri Duck Traders, Overland Park, Kan., pointed out that the type of material may change depending on the market and promotion. "A rugged cotton canvas may be ideal for someone who is working outdoors on a construction site, while a more technical jacket with four-way stretch may be ideal for someone who works in the transportation industry and is climbing in and out of a truck all day," she said.
3. ... and the Preferred Decoration Method
Silcock added that decoration needs to be taken into account when picking a material. "By answering these questions an easier decision can be made to determine the ideal fabric, level of waterproofing/breathability, and whether you need additional insulation," he said. "As our decoration applications continue to expand, it becomes more important that the chosen decoration technique is going to work on the garment fabric."
4. Add Special Properties
"End-buyers are looking for properties that will make them more comfortable while doing their everyday jobs," Strain said. That means properties like UPF sun protection and water-resistance are often a must. She offered an example. "A road construction crew may find UPF sun protection to be the most important feature in a jacket or shirt because they spend long hours in the hot sun," she said, adding that water resistance and breathability are important as well.
5. Don't Forget Accessories
"Accessories and additional layers are an excellent upsell opportunity to further complete and complement the end-user's outfit," said Silcock. He suggested focusing on layers. "Layering is an important element to ensure your body maintains optimal temperature through heat and moisture management. This can be a fleece under-layer, hat, gloves or scarf," he said. "If you have decoration on each layer, then you can consistently maintain company branding and stay both functional and fashionable." Strain took a different approach, advising you to cater to the functional needs of the end-users. "The best way to bundle outerwear with other products is to take a look at the needs of the wearer," said Strain. "If the target industry is manufacturing, then safety glasses and work gloves may be a great add-on and pertinent to do the job at hand," she added.
6. Know the Climate of the Promotion Location
Silcock mentioned that in addition to considering the end use, it is important to find out the temperature range of the location of the promotion. "How much precipitation? How long will you be exposed to the elements?" he said.
7. For 2015, Get Technical
Silcock noted that high technicality and high style are in demand for 2015. "Our new jackets for fall/winter are highly technical with a modern, urban look, fit and bright retail-inspired colors," he said. He offered the Meridian Storm Shell [pictured on the right] as an example of the high-tech, feature-rich jackets users want.