Next week marks the traditional beginning to the corporate gift buying season. There are several directions purchasing agents will go this time of year with one being the tired old items, the other new and functional items that will be used by the original recipient and others. With the downturn in the economy a couple of years ago one of the most immediate changes was to corporate gift buying. Higher end brands fell out of favor as the banking industry crumbled in favor of more reasonable gifts.
This is where we are today with the focus being on multi-purpose marketing efforts. Instead of giving a luxury brand buyers are encouraged to give out middle tier items that can be regarded as having a purpose. That can be said for the Icarus LED Flashlight which has all of the key requirements, it can be used in the home or around the office and comes neatly packaged. It can be used for personal safety reasons or in the event of an emergency or disaster and can still be given away at a trade-show or event. With the price in the middle of the spectrum it would not carry the same "how much did they spend on this" question that would surround some leading national brands. In short it hits the sweet spot without going over the top. The last thing anyone wants to do with such high unemployment and tighter budgets is to give the perception that they are insensitive to the plight of many.
We talked about giving flashlights as gifts in an earlier piece. It really has become one of the number on items over the last few seasons and we expect that to continue in the weeks and months ahead. Unlike last fall there is plenty of stock so with any luck inventory issues will not arise as they did last November. The slowing economy should also help in that regard.
We did suffer an outage over the past weekend. It was related to a problem with the DNS servers and it raised some interesting security issues that have since been resolved. We all appreciate your patience.
The internet is buzzing right now about the power of social media. A few weeks ago the Gap announced plans to change their logo. For years they had the logo we all remember that was on every bag and tag we ever got from them while shopping. They decided to change it up and for a brand that was not doing all that well in recent years and had begun to fall from a position at the top of a chain a firestorm ensued. The net result was an unbelievable amount of free publicity and a lot of bloggers and social media types taking credit for the reversal.
It is far more likely that the GAP used the opportunity to get their brand out in the wild again. Twenty years ago the company was the darling of people everywhere. After a couple of decades the love had begun to fade. When the Gap announced they were reverting to their old logo there was immediately a bunch of articles written about the power of social media. A quick check of the headlines shows that there are several thousand news stories in the last few days about the story. At a few hundred dollars a press release that is millions saved on free publicity. Most major news stations carried it on television and it made the major financial newspapers. Yet unlike most other major launches there are no reports of the new logo being in the wild in the form of shirts, pens or other trinkets. Usually at least a few of these items will get out there long in advance of the launch. Ebay has nothing and neither does the other major buying service. It makes for some interesting speculation as to whether or not the entire situation was deliberate and much like the old Coke new Coke fiasco from the 1980's part of a plan to put the brand back on the evening news.
The Gap had watched sales drop by about 12% in 2008, 3% in 2009, and sales were trending negative again in 2010. However there are reports that sales have been brisk since the news broke about the change in logo. The timing was also not a coincidence and allowed them to gain maximum exposure just prior to the fall sales season. Brilliant really but it probably had nothing much to do with consumer reaction to the logo as it did in creating buzz for the company.
As the days get shorter and we all begin to gather our candy for the end of the month we also get ready to turn the calendar to November. Soon many of us will be heading home in the dark and combined with the approach of the corporate gift giving season we find flashlights once again will take center stage. Luckily each year the offerings more closely match what you would see in your local hardware store and this year the focus is on versatility and safety.
Several years ago Garrity became part of the Duracell brand. They had been in the corporate markets for several years and quickly recognized a unique value opportunity while preserving their brand name. Along came Leeds which acquired the rights and now the Garrity Zoomed LED Flashlight is available to those looking to put a logo on an aluminum light. To clearly understand the zoom feature you have to look at the light itself. The entire lens portion twists from right to left which focuses the beam more intensely. Garrity has included a printed indicator which makes it easier to keep the light at a reasonable level. At this point a couple of years ago when the economy was booming plastic flashlights cost just as much as this light does and it includes the logo, batteries and aircraft grade aluminum that has made another brand so popular. Usually the batteries are not inserted prior to shipping and this continues to raise some concerns with clients as they don't understand the potential for damage in shipping. Founded in 1967, Garrity Flashlights have been around now for over forty years. The brand is well recognized and still available at hardware stores nationwide.
American Apparel has dodged going out of business and in addition to raising much needed capital they have also brought in new management. It seems 60 minutes may have missed the mark a few years ago in glorifying the actions of the company founder. The company enjoyed strong sales growth yet was still in a very difficult situation largely thanks to the actions of the CEO. They are a dominant player in the industry and it is great to see that they are going to continue as an operating business. They will continue to face strong competition from Sanmar as we discussed in Keys to Jacket Success but they largely target different markets and can co-exist in the same space.
Although some of the financial news over the last few weeks has been positive that is in the corporate arena. The average consumer is still struggling through high unemployment, stagnant wages and several years of living through a recession. Giving away corporate gifts with too much flare and that can potentially be viewed as trinkets is no longer popular. Instead take a look at functional employee gift ideas.
The entire point of the new late season line from Leed's was to encourage this type of giving. The Leeds Cook-Safe Cutting Board Set with your logo accomplishes this goal by providing the recipient a food grade quality present. Each board is FDA compliant and color coded to prevent cross contamination while making a meal. The front of the stand has a color coded label which allows the chef to keep raw foods away from cooked foods, meats away from vegetables permanently which can increase overall food safety. No printing is done on the boards but instead the stand is decorated which is unobtrusive and looks good sitting on a kitchen counter. Although cheese and knife sets continue to be popular you do have the concern of giving sharp objects to a mixed audience, this set is safe for any age bracket or user base.
But what if your intended target is not of cooking age? The popular gift right now among school age students has to do with silicone bands and cool shapes. Take advantage of that with the Leeds Silicone Bracelet USB Flash Drive 1GB with your logo imprinted. The silicone is flexible, is available in a bunch of attractive colors and looks a lot like the bands kids are actively trading. This means it is likely to be widely accepted in schools especially the middle school through college levels. Your logo, school group or team name gets imprinted in bold colors on the bracelet and meanwhile you have a gigabyte of storage space to carry your homework, office presentations or payroll information back and forth from work or school. Better yet take a look at branding one of these drives for Breast Cancer Awareness Month as they are available in pink.
Whatever way you choose to go this buying season keep in mind a lot of people are struggling and by giving a custom promotional gift this holiday season you can also help those in need. As strange as it sounds by providing a functional gift you are filling a need, reducing the expense to the recipient and in turn getting some advertising in the form of your printed logo. If you pick the right item you may find demand is significant and referrals and re-orders will take off. We will introduce some other items online this week.