Swag at a conference is ubiquitous. Everyone expects it, but most of us don’t really want what we are given. You may be asking yourself, “Is it worth it?” When used strategically and thoughtfully, yes it absolutely is! Branded event takeaways can be memorable marketing campaigns that will promote your event long after it is over.
The statistics tell the story. In a 2017 Consumer Study, the Promotional Products Association. International (PPAI) notes that among U.S. consumers:
- Around 80% will keep a promotional gift for over a year
- 88% will hold a higher opinion of the brand after receiving a promotional item
- 87% will research the brand further
- Around 90% will remember the name of the brand when given a promotional takeaway
It’s essential to consider your audience when choosing swag for your event. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what item they would like and use. For example, if your event is geared towards C-suite executives, a sweatshirt or a backpack are probably not the best ideas. If you are promoting your event to an older crowd, the latest tech gadget may be too complicated for your guests.
While you make your decision, find inspiration in the newest trends in swag. Like most things, trends in promotional products are constantly changing. These five trends for 2020 can help guide your decisions while you are choosing branded promotional items.
Offering “green” swag will appeal to millennials and Generation Z guests as well as politically progressive guests. Take the opportunity to limit your event footprint by offering items that are made from recycled materials or can be recycled. The most common recycled swag items are tote bags or blank books. Or offer items that can replace one-time use products like steel straws. Steel straws are very hot right now as more and more hospitality businesses ban the use of plastic straws. Recently, I saw an Espresso Pen, made from 30 percent recycled coffee grounds, and a Farina Wheat Pen, made from 35 percent reclaimed wheat straw, on a promotional product website. The sustainability movement is here to stay.
It’s time to get on board.
As the world gets faster and our lives get more complicated, self-care has become an important goal for many of us. Busy millennials, close-to-retirement executives, and most working women are all looking for ways to live healthier. What can you offer guests that help them take care of themselves, feel good, and remember your awesome event? Ideas include yoga wear, warm and fuzzy socks, custom tea blends, or herbal bath bombs. One interesting self-care item that can be used at work is blue light glasses. These glasses protect your eyes from the intense blue light that screens and other modern LED lights give off. What a great gift for those of us who stare at monitors, laptops, and smart phones all day.
Team up with a vendor or sponsor with a familiar name to create a unique takeaway. A brand that your guests already love will build and reinforce your own positive brand identity. For example, most everyone wants a YETI mug, Apple Air Buds, or a North Face hoodie. Find a brand that is launching a new product or wants to build a new customer base for an existing product. Make sure the partner you choose has a similar mission, vision, and values that your does. This will make your partnership even more meaningful.
We are all trying to multi-task 24 hours a day. Multi-functional items that are small, sleek, and useful are a great way to add value to your guests’ lives. The newest items are more than your father’s Swiss Army knife. An office multi-tool may offer fold-in carton opener, retracting scissors, retracting tape measure, stapler and staple remover, ring belt loop, pencil sharpener, wastebasket, and a hole punch. A Forward Fabric Speaker offers wireless charging capabilities for your smartphone and a Bluetooth speaker. Other ideas are a travel bag that can also be used as a briefcase or a multi-colored ballpoint pen that includes a highlighter. As long as the item is useful, your guests will love it.
Embrace the Past
The retro movement is alive and well, especially among Generation X. Looking back to a simpler and sweeter time gives us a moment of happiness, nostalgia, or just plain fun. These are takeaways that are more of an experience than being useful. But that’s ok sometimes. Who wouldn’t smile over a branded tin lunchbox or a Pez dispenser? What about a Slinky or Silly Putty? Make sure the item you choose makes sense for your brand and your audience. If your guests are under the age of 40, they won’t understand what to do with a plastic egg full of goo. But for an audience of a certain age, what is old is new again.
Branded promotional products can still be a very effective marketing strategy for any event planner. But don’t fall back on the standard travel mug or tote bag. In 2020, the options are endless. Choose items that fit your brand and that your guests will love.