Milan! Paris! PPAI Expo?
"It used to be that if it happened in retail, it happened in our industry a year or two later," said Lea Robinson, vice president of sales and marketing for Staton Corporate & Casual, Dallas. "But today, most manufacturers are decreasing the gap." With the latest men's styles hitting the runways in Paris and Milan this past month, it's clear that promotional apparel suppliers are paying close attention. On the following pages, Robinson, along with Howard Headden, vice president of sales for Ash City USA, Lenexa, Kan., and Mabel Kwok, director of product development for Ash City USA, give Promo Marketing readers tips on this evolving market and the latest trends hitting the runways, which are fast finding their way to the promotional marketplace.
News on Hues
Kwok: "Tech grays are classical neutrals that fit well in many categories, deliver active looks and functional perfection. Chocolates are also good choices, sporty and casual."
Robinson: "Red and black are the big colors for this season. Lucky magazine calls it, 'The delightfully attention-hogging combination channeling the '80s with bright contrast and energy to spare.'"
A Whole New World—Understanding a new generation of end-users
Headden: "One of the biggest challenges we face in the promotional products industry is distributor sales reps are mostly in their 40s, 50s and 60s selling to buyers who are also in their 40s, 50s and 60s, but the recipients of the merchandise are now in their 20s and 30s. This [younger] customer base has spent their entire life buying retail brands or from specialty retail chains and their expectations are that they are going to receive similar styling and quality when given something in a corporate application."
Advice to Distributors
Headden suggested asking your clients questions that will help lead them to the right product for the opportunity, such as:
• What is the business objective/application for this project? Is it a new product launch, trade show, sales meeting
• What is the budget?
• Where is the event being held?
• How many people will receive it? What is the ratio of men to women?
• When do they need the product?
Once these questions are answered, work with your top apparel suppliers to recommend a good, better and best product from their line that fit your customers' needs and demographics.