Affinity Merchandise https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk Fri, 30 Aug 2019 11:54:30 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 2019 predictions: Make your business stand out with these 3 promotional product trends. https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/2019-predictions-make-your-business-stand-out-with-these-3-promotional-product-trends/ https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/2019-predictions-make-your-business-stand-out-with-these-3-promotional-product-trends/#respond Fri, 25 Jan 2019 07:39:41 +0000 http://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/?p=1583 While the first few weeks after Christmas can seem pretty barren and dull for many people as things slowly get back to normal after the festive season, in the world of promotional products things start to hot up with the annual PSI event. Known as the leading European trade show of the Promotional Product Industry, [...]

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While the first few weeks after Christmas can seem pretty barren and dull for many people as things slowly get back to normal after the festive season, in the world of promotional products things start to hot up with the annual PSI event. Known as the leading European trade show of the Promotional Product Industry, PSI in Dusseldorf attracts over 17,000 visitors who come to see 925 exhibitors from 38 countries. The event is HUGE and the range of products you see, touch and try can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look out for.

I’ve been visiting PSI for the last few years so I thought I’d share some of my learnings to enable you to stay ahead of the trends this year.

PSI Exhibition in Dusseldorf 2019

The exhibition hall is huge. I definitely did my 10,000 steps and more as I walked around!

Visiting PSI

PSI stands for Promotional Product Service Institute. They are a professional network established in 1960 and have over 6000 member companies. Their ‘PSI’ event in January each year sees people travel from all over Europe to find out the latest trends, network with peers and meet importers, producers and finishers first hand. I’ve been attending PSI for several years, and it is a key highlight of my business calendar. We may be in the middle of the digital revolution, but I firmly believe that it is still incredibly important to maintain and build relationships with suppliers in person.

What’s new for 2019 in the world of promotional products?

Attending PSI is a great way to be at the beginning of new product launches before they filter out into the UK exhibitions. Increasingly there continues to be a blurring of lines between office, personal and on-the-move products, but I think this is as a result of the transient way we work, and that rather than separating our work life and our home life, it really should be all about out life as a whole. This reminds me of a Richard Branson quote – and it really resonates.

“I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.”

Across the three days at PSI I felt that there were three recurring trends:
• Technology
• Eco-friendly
• Health

I’ll take a brief look at each topic in the rest of this post.

2019 trends:

1. Technology related promotional items.

Bracelet mobile phone charger at PSI Dusseldorf

This cable charger is small and well designed.  Less chance of losing it !

This area is the fastest growing area in promotional marketing and has products available at every budget making it a sensible choice for most businesses.

Many of the things I saw in this category were evolutions of existing products: it is incredible to see how design and innovation in these areas creates new functionality. Mobile phone chargers have been around a few years now and are an excellent promotional product as they are incredibly useful to the recipient and are likely to be used way after your event has taken place. But forget the big old brick shaped charger you have seen in the past: this year I was impressed by a bracelet charger that you could wear on your wrist! I love the way that existing technology has been adapted into something wearable and this was something I saw across PSI: I even saw a rucksack which had an ‘SOS’ button built into it that connects up to three people in an emergency and gives your GPS location.

Smart rucksack with SOS button at PSI Dusseldorf

This ‘smart rucksack’ will call 3 contacts in an emergency and has GPS built in so they can find you.

The demand for wireless charging is ever increasing and many devices now have ‘power delivery’ or PD charging built in which enables a fast charge.
According to one of our key technology experts Matt Pluckrose from Intraco, these “will become popular in the car as they themselves will turn into ‘info/entertainment centres’ as driverless cars revolutionise our world over the coming ten years”.  Ten years ago this would have seemed like a science fiction fantasy but the rate of progress with technology is so rapid that these things are already starting to happen.
This is another example of how the boundaries of work and life are becoming increasingly blurred.

2. Eco-friendly promotional items

Lanyards made from plastic bottles at PSI exhibition in Dusseldorf

These lanyards are each made from 3 plastic bottles. Plastic free items are a big trend for 2019.

One of the things I’m passionate about as a business owner is how we can all make better choices to support the environment. I’ve teamed up with Plastic Free Maidenhead and am working with the Chamber of Commerce in Maidenhead to guide and encourage other businesses into reducing their use of single-use plastics. (We had our first meeting in December 2018, more to follow on the blog soon!)

Traditionally, the promotional product industry has always had a heavy reliance on single-use plastic.  Certainly many of the mass-produced items that are available for a low cost are made of plastic. It can sometimes feel like I’m going against the flow of things when I take the time to track down plastic-free alternatives.  I was encouraged therefore to see the number of exhibitors showing eco-friendly items at PSI. The theme of innovation continued here with manufacturers combining materials traditionally seen on technology products such as metals with more eco-friendly materials like bamboo.  Items such as wireless speakers, chargers, memory sticks and so on.

Lanyards have been a client essential for years so it’s fantastic to know that eco-friendly options are available. It was great to see an old favourite given a new twist: these lanyards are made from plastic bottles: it takes three bottles to create one lanyard!

Drinkware was also incredibly visible at the expo. Again, this spans the theme of eco-friendly items but also encouraging rehydration.
The venue itself, for a 5 euros deposit, supplied visitors with a refillable, reusable cup that people could return for their deposit back, or keep to re-use. This removed the need for single-use plastic cups or bottles. I see this as real progress in the fight against single-use plastics, and I’ve seen this done at many venues in very recent years.

There were so many new and innovative ideas in this category that I’m going to write a separate blog post about eco-friendly and plastic free promotional products, watch this space!

All of these bags were made from plastic bottles.

3. Health-related promotional items

Drink sensor at PSI Exhibition in Dusseldorf

Health and technology go hand in hand, and wearable technology is becoming a vast product category. I saw multiple different options for smartwatches: the technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, and the choice of colours, style and price points is fantastic.

Activity trackers seem to be making a come back as we’re becoming more health conscious. With a range of lightweight, waterproof and fashionable bracelets available, there are products to suit a variety of budgets. In my opinion, technology is an area where people have become very discerning about the technology they wear and use so the cheapest option isn’t always the best in this product category. People are becoming more tech savvy and expectations are higher than ever.

While many of us are ditching single-use plastic cups for the environment, the rise of drinkware products shows that people are still very keen to stay well hydrated for other reasons, including the health benefits. I liked the idea of a ‘drink timer’: place your bottle or cup on to a coaster which has a sensor and then at intervals it flashes to remind you to drink water.

I hope you’ve found it interesting to hear about some of the key trends for 2019. In the next few weeks, I’ll be going to Merchandise World exhibition in the UK to do some further research. Follow me on Linked in to read my next post.
If you’re looking for promotional products for your business in 2019 and some of the ideas have resonated, then I’d love to hear from you: drop me an email (kate@affinitymerchandise.co.uk) or give me a call: 07882 173 449.

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Merchandise for a night to remember: The Maidenhead and Windsor Business Awards 2018 https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/branded-merchandise-for-a-night-to-remember-at-the-mwba-2018/ https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/branded-merchandise-for-a-night-to-remember-at-the-mwba-2018/#respond Fri, 26 Oct 2018 08:20:08 +0000 http://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/?p=1330 Although I work with companies all over the UK, my office is based in Maidenhead, Berkshire and I volunteer with the local Chamber of Commerce. Maidenhead and Windsor are relatively small towns but our location in the Thames Valley and proximity to London and Heathrow means there is a hub of thriving businesses here. When [...]

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Although I work with companies all over the UK, my office is based in Maidenhead, Berkshire and I volunteer with the local Chamber of Commerce. Maidenhead and Windsor are relatively small towns but our location in the Thames Valley and proximity to London and Heathrow means there is a hub of thriving businesses here. When I heard about the Maidenhead and Windsor Business Awards, I was keen to support them.

In this blog, I’m going to share more about the awards, how I supported them, and some tips if you’re looking for inspiration on corporate gift ideas or want to create your own branded merchandise for an event.

Introducing the 2018 Maidenhead and Windsor Business Awards

This year was the second year of the awards, and there were 15 categories ranging from ‘the best marketing campaign’ to ‘best company to work for’. What I love about the awards is that the entries vary from micro businesses to large global corporations like Three who are based here in Maidenhead. It’s such a varied business mix and a lively event on the night of the awards as everyone mingles. Nominations for the 2018 awards opened in April 2018 and in August a selection of businesses were notified that they had made the final cut. The awards ceremony was a red carpet event organised by Lime Blue Solutions and held at The Holiday Inn in Maidenhead on the 21st September.

Affinity Merchandise on every table

The Maidenhead and Windsor Business awards are supported by sponsorship from businesses based in the area. Being involved with the awards is an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of your own business, but also to meet other local businesses too.
Last year I coordinated the production of the winner’s plaques, but this year I felt that I wanted to do a little more. This was a brilliant opportunity to be in front of key people at a really well-organised event. In addition to the plaques, I decided to sponsor the table gifts that the 250 guests would see on their tables when they attended the awards night.
It was a fun experience, particularly as I knew the names of many of the finalists and had to keep things secret while we were working on the designs for the awards!

Winners trophy at Maidenhead and Windsor Business Awards

Choosing gifts for corporate event guests

There are often a variety of guests at corporate events ranging from corporate executives to company employees and your ideal gift should appeal to everyone.  To help the event organisers decide on the branded gifts they wanted to create for the table gifts for their guests, we had a brainstorming session where we shortlisted some ideas that worked within our budget. The events are a black tie event with a sit-down dinner, but guests are encouraged to stay and dance the night away after the awards.
We were keen to select something that was a bit of fun. One idea was to create ‘morning after kits’ as we knew there had been quite a few sore heads after last year’s event night, but they don’t have universal appeal: not all guests drink alcohol.
In the end, we decided on confectionery: a sweet treat that guests could eat themselves or take home for their children. We felt this fitted in well with the fun and enjoyable atmosphere that Lime Blue Solutions were aiming to create on the night.
Creating the awards was fairly straightforward as Lime Blue created a design and I was able to work with my manufacturers to select the right materials. We were keen for these to have a premium, ‘high end’ feel as that would make it more likely that winners would put them in pride of place in their office, but we also had a budget to work within.

Here’s what the event organisers thought about the awards and merchandise that we created:

“Affinity is a long trusted supplier of Lime Blue Solutions – we have successfully used their services for many of our clients’ events. Kate always goes above and beyond to source unique products to fit the brief. Therefore we had no hesitation in asking her to provide the award plaques for the Maidenhead and Windsor Business Awards. Kate has now provided these for the 2nd year in a row and many people have commented on how sleek and stylish they are – certainly something that the winners are proud to display in their workplaces. At this year’s awards dinner Affinity Merchandise sponsored the table favours too, providing retro-style sweets for each table place. They added a lovely touch to the dinner and proved a real hit with the guests as there were very few left at the end of the night! Kate, you never fail to deliver!”

Event Organiser Zoe from Lime Blue Solutions.

 

It will be all right on the night

When you have been working behind the scenes to help plan an event, it’s incredibly exciting when you get the chance to be there in person too. Especially as this meant I could see guests reactions to the products I had created!
I was on a table with My Workspot, who offer flexible office, desk, meeting and event space for the business community in Maidenhead to co-work and collaborate. Affinity are MyWorkSpot members and part of their co-working community so it was great to share a table with familiar faces on the award night. They were a finalist in the 2017 awards but scooped the winning prize in the ‘Business Start-Up category this year’.

 

“We were delighted to win Business Startup at this year’s awards, the event itself was brilliantly run and a great chance to meet other Maidenhead businesses, whilst celebrating the success of the previous year. More importantly for us, we managed to celebrate the awards by sharing a table with our members, who without, we would not be here today. The award itself is of great quality and looks fantastic therefore now sits pride of place on the MyWorkSpot reception”

William Balantyne Co-founder of My Work Spot.

 

I think we had a lucky table as a lady on our table also won the charity ‘heads or tails’ competition, which left her with an envelope of cash that, had been donated by other event guests. The rest went to the Chamber chosen charity.

We had a great evening!

Kate Smart from Affinity Merchandise with the team from My Workspot Maidenhead

How can you create memorable merchandise for your corporate event?

I’ve had a few people comment on the awards and the sweets at the event, so I thought it would help to share a bit more of my expertise to help you create the best promotional gifts for your event or corporate function.

Here are my top tips:

1. Take time to plan

Think hard about the reaction you want to create, what you want to achieve and what the lasting impression should be. The earlier you do this, the better: some items have longer lead times to produce than others.

2. How important is instant gratification?

Are you looking for an instant reaction with a feel-good factor or something that you want the recipient to keep and use?

3. Know your audience

Who is attending the event? Your audience is really important. If you don’t know much about them, then try to find out who attended last year, or who attends similar types of events.
If it was a technical award event we would have brainstormed different ideas, maybe the confectionery would still have been chosen, but it’s good to think about your audience.

4. Be budget savvy

Budget is critical: think about the best in class product you can create for the money you have to spend. Our budget wasn’t big, but the reaction was what we wanted, and they were well received. Often the mistake people make is to do the ‘table gift’ as an afterthought – a bit like wedding favours that you have to scoop off the tables at the end of the night. The devil is in the detail.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It’s easy to think that a quick Google search will give you all of the options that you need, but the reality is that this can be an overwhelming process. Different manufacturers use different materials and have different lead times and production processes. I’ve had quite a few ‘emergency’ phone calls over the year where businesses have come unstuck trying to do it all themselves.
Events can be complicated to organise so this is one thing you can save time and stress by outsourcing, and my experience and contacts mean I can create merchandise at a very competitive price too.

If you’d like help with merchandise for an event or function that you’re organising, please give me a call or send me an email.

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Don’t dispose; buy re-use! https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/dont-dispose-buy-re-use/ https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/dont-dispose-buy-re-use/#respond Thu, 13 Sep 2018 10:46:29 +0000 http://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/?p=1247 More and more we're seeing the dreadful impact of plastics on our environment.  We only have to look at the recent David Attenborough Blue Planet series which highlighted the dreadful consequences of disposing on non-disposable waste and specifically single use plastic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLx4fVsYdTI 2015 plastic carrier bag charge From October 2015, our Government stipulated that large [...]

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More and more we’re seeing the dreadful impact of plastics on our environment.  We only have to look at the recent David Attenborough Blue Planet series which highlighted the dreadful consequences of disposing on non-disposable waste and specifically single use plastic.

2015 plastic carrier bag charge

From October 2015, our Government stipulated that large retail businesses must charge 5p for each single carrier bag being used, and more recently we’re seeing an implementation of a 10p charge for re-usable bags.  The initiative was championed by Surfers Against Sewage who’s campaign ‘Break the Bag Habit’ contributed to the implementation of this levy.

The results of this initiative are pretty staggering.  According to Gov stats  (Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)  “in 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. That’s something like 140 bags per person, the equivalent of about 61,000 tonnes in total…”

However since the scheme was introduced “the number of bags used has gone down by more than 80 percent in England.”  Furthermore it is reported that a total £66m was donated to good causes in the year 2016-17 with 50% of this going to ‘local causes’.

This continues to be a hot topic and every little bit we can do to help individually will make a collective difference.

Certainly in the promotional merchandise industry, I can’t remember the last time I was asked for plastic carrier bags which is hugely re-assuring.

Businesses are quite rightly favouring the re-usable cotton tote bags.  It’s a really useful low cost promotional give away with good brand visibility and an eco-message which I think is a winning combination.

Single use take-away cups

A more recent initiative which is being reflected also in my industry is the encouraging uplift of re-usable take-away cups. The levy which has been applied to some coffee shops of around 25p if using a single use cup, together with a discount when you bring your own cup to fill and take away is making a visible difference.

From British made plastic re-usable take-away cups (reducing further our carbon footprint which is an added benefit), take-away cups made from bamboo fibre, to collapsible silicon take away cups making the item even more portable, the choices are vast.  Similar to the cotton tote, the take away cup continues to be a popular choice for many businesses with it’s combined practicality and brand exposure. A personal favourite of mine is the collapsible cup.  Mine travels with me everywhere!

Interested in this subject, I’ve recently joined a local community group with the focus of making our town single-use plastic free.  The initiative was founded by the charity Surfers Against Sewage who were aiming to enlist 125 volunteer community leaders to promote and lead the way. Initially focusing on coastal regions, the initiative has become more widespread and is very much targeting our more urban areas; interestingly the current count of volunteer leads is the 374. You can see their campaign at https://www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-communities/

It’s really encouraging to see that the message is starting to get out but we still have a long way to go.

If you’re interested to learn more about eco-friendly merchandise, or you have some great ideas, we’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

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It’s Time to Tee off https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/time-to-tee-off/ https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/time-to-tee-off/#respond Thu, 29 Jun 2017 09:42:12 +0000 http://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/?p=503 It's Time to Tee Off Welcome to this month’s blog - July heralds to be a fantastic month for Golf for the UK. First to tee off is The Irish Open on the 6th July , followed by The Scottish Open (13-16th July), 146th Open at Royal Birkdale (20-23rd) and the Senior Championships in Wales [...]

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It’s Time to Tee Off

Welcome to this month’s blog – July heralds to be a fantastic month for Golf for the UK. First to tee off is The Irish Open on the 6th July , followed by The Scottish Open (13-16th July), 146th Open at Royal Birkdale (20-23rd) and the Senior Championships in Wales ends the month on the 26-30th July.

The competitions are attracting the big names and Rory McIlroy has confirmed he will be at the Irish Open, The Scottish Open and the 146th Open despite a troublesome rib injury.

It is a great opportunity to plan Golf themed activities, from team building, to corporate hospitality and we have an excellent selection of Golf merchandise. Visit www.buygolfgifts.co.uk to view the full range.

Campaign Ideas

Host a Golf Day

This is a great option for customers or employees, with the simple addition of some well chosen merchandise, a hosted Golf day brings your brand to life and the opportunity to have some fun, We have wide selection of Golf related merchandise from banners and Golf Balls to polo shirts and caps to decorate the course (and teams), and provide some well earned gifts.

Corporate Gifts

One of the most important elements of a corporate gift is quality and golf merchandise is no different. We supply the well known brands, Callaway, Adidas, TaylorMade, Pinnacle, NikeGolf and more, ensuring your customers are not only happy with the product but will use it.

Corporate Hospitality and Bespoke Events

We have teamed up with Lime Blue Solutions (a great Events Agency) to help you create the perfect Golf event, whether it is corporate hospitality at one of the Opens, to a bespoke tailored made event for your key clients.

LimeBlueTo find out more about about the different type of Golf events Lime Blue can organise for you – give them a call on 01628 780211 or email enquiries@limebluesolutions.com (make sure you mention Affinity Merchandise!)

Natadola Bay Golf Course

Got a larger budget to play with?  How about organising a Golf trip to the Fiji International at Natadola Bay Golf Club in August!

If you have been inspired to get out on the green, then get in touch and we can make sure you are maximising your brand from the first tee to the clubhouse.

 

Happy putting!

 

Kate & The Affinity Merchandise Team

You can email hello@affinitymerchandise.co.uk or call 0844 995 1495

Dates & Useful Links

Tickets are still available – check links for accurate data.

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The Rise of Wearable Tech https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/the-rise-of-wearable-tech/ https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/the-rise-of-wearable-tech/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 13:00:29 +0000 http://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/?p=433 The Rise of Wearable Tech Health and well-being has never been so popular. There are gadgets and apps for everything from heart rate monitors to GPS trackers, each filling the insatiable desire to gain more knowledge about our bodies. It is estimated that wearable fitness monitors is now a $1.15bn industry. I too have succumbed [...]

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The Rise of Wearable Tech

Health and well-being has never been so popular. There are gadgets and apps for everything from heart rate monitors to GPS trackers, each filling the insatiable desire to gain more knowledge about our bodies. It is estimated that wearable fitness monitors is now a $1.15bn industry.

I too have succumbed to the obsessive wearing of the ‘activity band’ and have recently embarked on the nationally recognised ‘Park Run’. From being someone who has never run further than the taxi rank I am now ‘running’ 5k and have (albeit a bit prematurely) signed up for the Windsor 10k which is in September so plenty of time to train I hope !

So what is it that makes these activity devices so popular? Well we all know we should move more, but wearing the tech doesn’t just give us scientific reasons to exercise more, it gives us the motivation. The bands (especially if they are linked to apps on the phone) keep health and well-being top of mind.

Is there a place for branded fitness monitors?

The opportunity for brand exposure and reinforcement has never been greater. Merchandise has changed from something that was once kept on your desk at work, to an item that travels with you and becomes an extension of your day to day life. Your brand is now getting into the very heart of your clients’ and/or your employees’ home, on the sports field, even in the pub (yes there is now a breathalyser app…).

For those of you responsible for the health and well-being of your employees, this is a great opportunity as part of your CSR Strategy to get your teams active, and promote a healthier lifestyle, and hopefully end up with a happier and more productive workforce.

What Fitness or Health Monitor to choose?

There is a plethora of monitors and health devices to choose from, so where do you start – here are my top 4

1.The Activity Band – what does it do?

These are the most popular, based on a 3 component accelerometer, they measure acceleration against 3 axis. They feed the data back to an app to be analysed and measured. Most communicate via Bluetooth, however Jaw UP syncs with iPhones and consumes less battery power. Simple activity bands just count steps, others such as the Nike FuelBand count calories – each using their unique algorithms!

If you are hoping your customers or employees will wear the bands (if they don’t already have them), choosing a mid to high range item that has additional functionality such as monitoring the heart rate, or oxygenation, will help adoption.

Band

2. The Lumo Lift

This is a unique wearable gadget. Similar to the activity band it tracks steps, calories and distance, however it also helps track and improve your posture. Ideal for those suffering with back problems. The clever device linked to an App prompts and alerts you when your posture is not as it should be!

Lumo

3.The Cloud Cup

We have covered the fitness angle, but how about hydration? We know we are meant to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but how can you tell what you have drunk. This 500ml capacity smart cup works with an app via Bluetooth to alert you when to drink and advises you on your hydration.

cloud cup

4.Music and Hydration

This quirky little gadget combines good quality sound (3W) and a 600ml drinks bottle. Ideal for sport, outdoor and health based campaigns. There is a good size branding area, and has a playtime of around 5 hours

music

For more information on any wearable tech or fitness monitors do get in touch, and we can work out what will work best for your budget and campaign.

You can email hello@affinitymerchandise.co.uk or call 0844 995 1495

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Is Merchandise an Afterthought? https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/is-merchandise-an-afterthought/ https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/is-merchandise-an-afterthought/#respond Thu, 06 Apr 2017 12:52:45 +0000 http://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/?p=360 Is merchandise an afterthought or an integral part of the exhibition plan? Since my last blog I had the privilege of being invited by a client to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to see for myself how the merchandise I supplied for them was being used. I took this as a great opportunity [...]

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Is merchandise an afterthought or an integral part of the exhibition plan?

Since my last blog I had the privilege of being invited by a client to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to see for myself how the merchandise I supplied for them was being used. I took this as a great opportunity to see what other branded merchandise was being given away at this high profile event.

After extensive walking of the aisles my feet were pretty sore, and with the exception (as biased as I am) of the merchandise I supplied for the event, I was on the whole unimpressed by the selection of giveaways, which got me thinking. Is merchandise an afterthought or an integral part of the campaign?

For the purpose of this blog we will focus on merchandise for exhibitions, however the themes and questions are equally important for other uses of merchandise.

Motivations for buying branded items can be very different, however they should have 2 common criteria

  • The items should need to reflect you as a business
  • They should be value for money

There really is no need to spend more than necessary to achieve your intended goal, and this is where working with a merchandise partner can really pay dividends. They should understand your business and the objectives, and deliver you best in class product for your budget.

How can you ensure merchandise is not forgotten?

I have been working in this industry for many years, and still get the last minute requests for merchandise to giveaway at a conference or event. Luckily it doesn’t happen so frequently now, but when it does how can we ensure that the merchandise is as important to the conference as the stand design?

Aside from the critical questions of lead time, quantity and price point it is useful to ask the following questions to shape the brief.

  • Who is your target audience for the merchandise?
  • What is the message you’re trying to convey, and how do you want the recipient to feel?

By connecting the brand to the merchandise, the items now have a purpose, they can’t be seen as cheap or low value, they need to be engaging and help tell the story. Taking time at this stage can make the difference between a good and great event.

Grade the gift

It makes good sense to grade the gift according to the visitor who comes to the stand. Take for example Mobile World Congress. With a footfall totalling over 100,000 people you need to be mindful of your merchandise, and how many and to whom you’re giving away.

Apparent at this exhibition as with others, was the ‘under the counter’ merchandise, the unspoken rule of merchandising, the better the prospect the higher grade merchandise would be touted.  Remember this next time you’re given the plastic pen rather than the shiny Bluetooth speaker!

My pen is better than your pen!

I saw lots of pens at MWC, to be honest I lost count of how many. Now I am a fan of a good quality pen, there are plenty of options to choose, however when you are at a big event like MWC, the quality of the pen can be the only thing to set you apart from the pens on the neighbouring stand. So if you are striving to differentiate your message and brand, stay away from the everyday items.

Need some ideas?

Based on my own experience of walking the aisles with my feet in both camps (and please excuse the pun!), a thoughtful low cost gift that would raise a smile and would be instantly appreciated would be a pair of branded gel party feet or maybe a soothing foot spray. How about a energiser kit, or a phone kit for those of us who forget our phone charger, ear buds etc?

For the ‘qualified’ lead maybe something more prestigious such as powerbank, an aluminium bottle, or Moleskine notebook.

Depending on the theme of the event think about the packaging too.  Exposure to your brand/company doesn’t end the minute your visitor leaves the stand. Choosing a highly visible laminate bag, or tote, or similar is a walking advertisement and gives longevity to your message on site and off site.

Was MWC a good event for our client?

“So MWC for us – is be there or be forgotten. We try as much as possible to match our ‘giveaways’ to us as a company…  thinking about 2017 where our presence was about being smarter, more efficient, being seen!!  Our merchandise has to be transportable, easy to use and be smart – our logo has to be positioned and visible. 

We want our contacts to ‘use’ the items… I actually had a major prospect come back to the stand and ask for a couple more webcam sliders – an absolute hit!”

An item I believe should serve as a reminder of you – ie you, the company promoting your message to your prospective client, or as a reminder to your equally important staff.

Granted, there will be some occasions where flooding the market with very low cost items works for you.  Maybe a radio station trying to reach as wide an audience as possible, or a consumer campaign which may have a more random approach with the purpose of getting your ‘name’ out to as many people as possible.

 

Just remember to ask what does the merchandise say about you?

If you have trade shows and events in the calendar and you are unsure what merchandise would work best, then get in touch, and we can help you stand out from the competition.

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February Blog – My Top 5 Exhibition Picks https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/top5/ https://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/top5/#respond Fri, 24 Feb 2017 09:23:45 +0000 http://affinitymerchandise.co.uk/?p=213 My Top 5 Exhibition Picks Earlier this year, I visited one of the largest exhibitions of promotional items in the UK. Held at the Ricoh arena in Coventry, it was a great opportunity to catch up with manufacturers, and find out what’s new to the market and what trends are anticipated for 2017. Here, I’ve [...]

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My Top 5 Exhibition Picks

Earlier this year, I visited one of the largest exhibitions of promotional items in the UK. Held at the Ricoh arena in Coventry, it was a great opportunity to catch up with manufacturers, and find out what’s new to the market and what trends are anticipated for 2017.

Here, I’ve picked what I believe to be some real finds that could work really well for your own events and exhibitions, or as giveaways to clients and prospectives. Of course merchandise is tangible; it needs to convey a positive emotional experience and it needs to match your brand identity. Whilst not all these items may work for you, I feel it’s a good opportunity to show you what’s out there and I hope this may give you some inspiration.

1. Americana range
The Americana range of UK-wide drinkware is exclusive to the promotional market. It offers a wide selection of stylish designs, hard-wearing materials (single walled and doubled walled, opaque and translucent) and great print opportunities. Available in different capacities from the 250ml Primo designed specifically to work with hot drink vending machines, to the Grande Thermal 350ml capacity mug with handle.
Price: £2-£6 per unit
Target: The large print area and usability makes this a great item for your campaign.
Minimum order: Min quantity from 120 units (depending on mug style)

2. Smart Cube
This cube is a creative multifunctional desk set, it can hold pens, paper, paperclips and business card holder. It is a unique patented piece, that is ideal for campaigns that have complex messaging or a story to tell.

Price: Low
Target: Great for complex B2B campaigns, or educational promotions for office workers.
Minimum Order: 100 units (£3.5 + carriage and VAT)

3. RFID Cases
There is an estimated 92 million contactless cards in circulation authorising payments under £30 with a wave of the card. However it has been shown that mobile payment devices can read the cards up to 4 inches away, leaving you vulnerable to contactless theft. These RFID blocking cases for cards and phones, block any signal and prevent unauthorised contactless payments
Price: Low – Mid range
Target: Great for competition giveaways, or at exhibitions for customers and employees
Minimum order: depending on model – approx. 100 units

tshirt

4. Short run print T-Shirts or Polo Shirts
In my opinion, this is a game changer, previously the high cost of short print runs were prohibitive to most campaign specific messaging. Now with the advances in printing technology, you can print designs directly on T-Shirts or Polo shirts after they have been assembled. This means you can have bespoke messaging for a particular event, or make your t-shirts campaign specific.
Price: low – mid
Target: Any marketing activity relating to your campaign – e.g. for exhibition staff to wear, or bespoke prizes or giveaways or for team building events.
Minimum Order: 5 T-Shirts at £32 +VAT per shirt

5. Denim Tote
Totes are a staple of the merchandise catalogue, however they are usually functional, and not particularly pretty. These new denim drawstring and tote bags are not only desirable but eco friendly too. Plus they have a great surface area for messaging, which when you consider most bags have a lifespan of a minimum of 7 months, gives longevity to your message.
Price: low -mid range
Target: Great for CSR and ECO messaging, for events and campaigns. Also available in a draw string bag
Minimum Order: 100 (approx. £3 per unit)

If you are interested in any of these merchandise items, or want to find out what promotional items could work for your campaign, then do get in touch Affinity call 0844 995 1495 or email  info@affinitymerchandise.co.uk

Kate
Director Affinity Merchandise

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