Creativity is Fantastic
In a recent interview with Jeff Bowles, co-president of Proforma Promotionally Yours, he explained something to me that others I’ve spoken with have touched on―the concept of commodity items. I’ll do my best to paraphrase his definition.
Basically, a commodity item is something that’s traded according to its quantity, as opposed to its quality. Things like rice and corn are commodity items, because they’re all the same in terms of quality (rice is rice is rice). Other items, like plasma TVs or paintings or cars are not commodity items, because there is potential for great variances in quality (some cars are awesome, some are okay, and others are terrible).
It was interesting for me to think of some promotional products that way, because I'd never really considered how scale and item complexity can interact with sales. I assume there are a number of important consequences of some promotional products being commodities, but there's two I'd like to mention specifically. Josh Hayes, business development manager for Ball Pro/Golf Plus, touched on them in another of my interviews.
Hayes explained that with certain commodity items, like golf balls, it can be harder to make a profit because everyone offers them and there aren't many qualitative differences among them, so it just becomes about who can sell them the cheapest.
He also pointed out that commodity items aren't always the best promotionally. Because certain more elaborate items are better at creating personal, memorable experiences than their commodity counterparts. This makes sense if you think about how much more likely you are to remember how you got the nice pair of golf shoes, as opposed to the golf balls.