What's New and What's Selling in Promotional Tech Products
Steven Spielberg surmised that, “Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives.” With all due respect to the Academy Award-winning director, we are going to side with the first part of his stance, as it aligns with our thinking that technology items are more cause for celebration than they are for consternation. Many promotional products companies join us in feeling ecstatic about tech’s possibilities, and for this space, we could have rattled off plenty of suppliers dishing out cutting-edge gizmos and gadgets. We were fortunate to connect with Joshua Pospisil, marketing manager for KTI Networks/KTI Promo, Houston, and Abby Alling, marketing coordinator for iClick, Seattle, leaning on their industry expertise to see how promotional tech products are the life of the promo party.
KTI Networks/KTI Promo and iClick have been specializing in technology solutions for a combined 54 years. Thanks to the lengths of their tenures, the companies have seen many trends and count themselves fortunate to be able to tend to those and other, far-more-durable, options. Therefore, no matter the classification of the commodities, the public’s increasing reliance on technology means the suppliers have always put innovation at the forefront of their business models.
“The fact that people are becoming more and more tech-savvy on a daily basis really pushes us to stay on top of our game and make sure we are as knowledgeable as possible,” Pospisil said of how the aforementioned enthusiasm has come to define how KTI introduces innovative offerings. “On top of selling tech promo products, we also pride ourselves on being able to educate customers on the ins and outs of the tech industry, as well. It is why we stay in the tech lane and rarely venture out. We want to make sure we are masters at what we do.”
iClick shares that focus on providing useful information, with Alling noting that her employer curated its product line to include only high-quality, high-value items. “There are so many options that often it can be confusing when trying to choose the right product, and customers can feel overwhelmed,” she said. “Education has been key, [so as] to ensure the distributors we work with and their end-users understand which type of tech item would best suit their use case.”
As the years have passed and our sources have acquired clout in the field, their thinking concerning technology has yielded utterances akin to the earlier Spielberg comment, with Alling noting that the associated goods have “made our lives easier, but not simpler.” By that, she means that her company has chosen to inhabit two worlds, “providing products that work with the latest and greatest technology, without leaving behind those who have yet to upgrade their devices.”
So, which tech products have taken off and stayed bankable, which have faltered, what’s behind those trends and how can suppliers and distributors maximize those answers to give customers exactly what they want?
“Styluses have lost their significance, USB drives remain steady and PopSockets Grips have skyrocketed,” Alling said. “For those who have converted to digital ink, a stylus is crucial. However, tablet-specific pens have come a long way, and a squishy bobble on the back of the promotional pen simply cannot compete with a Surface Pen or Apple Pencil.
“The USB drive remaining steady only strengthens the idea that it really comes down to habits,” she continued. “Of course there are other ways to share digital files, but there’s no other way to share something physical and branded with digital content.
PopSockets Grips came out of nowhere. Initially designed as a way to keep your headphone cables wrapped up on your smartphone, the PopGrip became the must-have tech accessory no one knew they needed until they had one.”
“The USB, although it has been around for a long time, is still a product that yields enormous sales,” Pospisil added. “Also, power banks have come in a close second [for KTI], as we all know we have to keep our electronics charged when on the go, especially our phones and tablets.”
Pospisil noted that nothing is wrong with riding the wave that here-and-gone products such as fidget spinners and selfie sticks generate, but that nobody can forget to keep pushing tried-and-true items at the same time. That awareness has allowed him and his contemporaries to respond enthusiastically to end-users’ calls for wireless/cord-free options, thus bringing in an abundance of business through appropriate goods, with smart home-technology products “really gaining traction as well.”
He and Alling expect for mobile products to lead the never-ceasing technology revolution, with Alling especially giddy about iClick’s eagerness to help brands “own the back of the phone” with a curated selection of highly functional phone grips and stands.
“Mobile can have multiple definitions, and there’s a rapid convergence happening across mobile devices from phones and tables to wireless equipment in cars, homes and offices,” she said. “We plan to consistently launch products that empower the promotion of brands, while enriching the lives of consumers.”
GATEWAY TO GLORY
Alling’s last point should be the mantra of anyone who wishes to become the human equivalent of a USB drive or a mobile product—meaning someone who acquires a reputation for reliability among end-users with no time to waste in searching for and acquiring tech products. While we will always have fad products, and companies will perennially need to ponder ways to better what the market has at every given time, promotional products businesses must push all the right buttons to stand out from the competition. If businesses are just beginning to sell technology items or are considering introducing them, they must follow all the buzz surrounding the products’ effectiveness and be daring enough to attempt to find a new solution to an old problem. If they have established themselves within the tech world, they should continue to work on how they tackle the previous suggestions to the newbies and be likewise bold.
“[After all of these years], we still believe that technology is the way of the future,” Pospisil said. “People of all ages love anything and everything related to tech, so the interest in tech promo products will only grow.”
With many reputable clients to its name, iClick welcomes chances to add even more, while also encouraging other businesses to strive for a share of the market. As Alling sees it, then, everyone must keep pace and pay close attention to the whole history of the technology field to gain a sense of what might stick.
“Don’t get hung up on the latest and greatest,” she said. “Focus on what consumers need the most at this moment. It may change in a year or two, but that’s OK! We always attempt to innovate. It’s not always easy, but it pays off in the end. Do your research. Many companies, especially in the promo industry, ignore the ‘R’ in “R&D.’ This can be a costly mistake when [you’re] manufacturing a large number of products. Nobody wants to get caught holding the bag with inventory that won’t sell. Last, don’t forget about the importance of quality, safety and social compliance. This is a hallmark of iClick, and we’re proud to be an industry leader in this regard.”