Like many professionals, I appreciate the opportunity trade shows provide to learn, deepen relationships with existing product partners, and discover new “right fit” product partners. Having recently attended the largest trade show in my industry, it was evident that companies have refocused their operations to accommodate what’s important to people and environmental, and social topics. And I left the show with an “aha” I’d like to share.
To address these top-of-mind issues, leaders should consider refocusing their thinking from ROI to ROX (return on experience) when deciding on how to convey appreciation, mark milestones, and more – specifically, when selecting products for recognizing clients and partners and retaining talent. The ROX metric extends impact on the recipient beyond the physical product to strengthen the emotional connection between giver and recipient. Creating the right “experience” is the true measure of a successful recognition effort.
The ROX focus should be the foundation of your overall strategy to nurture key stakeholders. Start with the emotion you want to create and choose a product to match the feeling and make it last. Choose emotionally laden, high quality products, because the longer those products are used, the longer they contribute positive attributions to your brand.
Keep in mind that product, messaging, and packaging not only support your overall strategy in reinforcing your company brand and values to your stakeholder recipients, but also that they will judge your brand based on the recognition experience. Selecting the wrong products can derail your brand’s story, suggest a disconnect from other communications stakeholders receive, and create bad optics for brand managers.
Product trends insights
Keeping ROX in mind, here are more takeaways from the show:
- Product quality – From leaky water bottles to flimsy pens, poor-fitting t-shirts, and cheap, tangled earbuds, evidence points to an abundance of entry-level products ending up in trash and landfills. Instead of wasting resources and taxing our planet, find success using your product budget more strategically, including purchasing a smaller number of well-made products and being more particular about how and when they are given to strategically chosen recipients. Consider spending that aligns with the quality your brand stands for.
- Product functionality – A highly functional product that gets used in everyday life sparks joy and creates conditions for positive brand recall when used. Selecting a product that is meaningful for your recipient’s professional or personal or both types of lifestyle will pay off.
- Sustainable – For millennials and Gen Z, who make up approximately 48% of the workforce (Bureau of Labor and Statistics) today, sustainable and ethical sourcing is a top concern. Know your company’s ESG standards and incorporate them into your decision-making practices. Many companies have robust quality, environmental and social responsibility programs in place for the products they sell, the products they use to promote their brands often get overlooked. Telling your corporate responsibility story through products must also be authentic. Be sure to share with recipients the sustainability information about the product they’re receiving.
- Retail name brand – Retail brands have dabbled in the branded product industry for some time, and today coveted retail brands have partnered across a plethora of product categories (apparel, drinkware, tech, etc.). When your stakeholder receives a retail brand with your corporate brand discretely added, it creates perceived value based on that retail brand’s “status and credibility, which transfer to your brand. As an added bonus to the giver, recipients of highly valued products like to show them off and tell stories about the experience.
- Packaging – Packaging creates the first impression and can boost the ex It’s a key component turning a promotional, branded product into a gift or recognition moment with emotion that says a lot about the giver. When done correctly –whether with full color custom boxes, a custom ribbon accent, custom print companion pieces, etc. – these components can subtly convey your brand visually.
- Supply chain – Supply chain challenges are not over yet. Product availability (especially retail brands), staffing shortages in manufacturing plants where product is customized, and weather issues (ice storms, tornadoes) that disrupt transit make planning ahead critical to meet deadlines.
Design Trend Insights
There was a time when just putting your logo on a product was sufficient. Today those who receive something from you will use it, appreciate it, and talk about it more if there is greater impact in how it is customized. Consider unique, eye-catching design for product and packaging that uses color, shapes, and themes for enhancing recipient experience. Save the majority of text for an accompanying message.
- Use of logos – Make it discrete. This creates a more appealing aesthetic for those hoping to use the product they receive without feeling like a walking billboard. This could also be as simple as placing the logo in an unusual or discrete location on the product (bottom of charcuterie board for example).
- Meaningful common copy sentiment – A sentiment that brings the product, hour brand and usage together will go a long way. The right sentiment can evoke a lot of emotion and make the experience more memorable.
- Personalization – Personalizing what you give specific to the receiver will leave an indelible impression. There is no question this takes extra attention to detail and typically adds a bit of production time. However, the resulting “this is just for you” conveyance is powerful.
Branded Products Make People Who Matter Feel Like They Matter
Branded products have been around for a very long time. Jasper Meek, a newspaperman and printer from Ohio, is considered to be the “father of promotional products”. In the late 1800s, Meek started distributing burlap book bags to local schools to promote his newspaper and keep the presses running during slow times. It was all about advertising.
Today branded products are used for infinite solutions to foster connectedness with an audience. Consider this abbreviated list. Drop me a line to tell me how you’re using them.
|· Recognize||· Motivate||· Thank|
|· Reinforce||· Build Community||· Mark Milestones|
|· Honor Achievements||· Express Appreciation||· Raise Awareness|
|· Create Experiences|
Branded products are one of six important channels of communication to make those that matter, feel like they matter. Connect with a professional to help you create ROX that rocks with on-target product selection and handling the details of sourcing, procurement, packaging, and delivery. Conserve your internal resources and rely on us.