RT Promotions

The suppliers of personalised & promotional, branded gifts
01202 882 893

« back to news...

Promotional Gifts - Industry Expert Interviewed by RT Promotions' MD

18th September 2014
The UK's second Promotional Products Week event started on Monday (15th September), and so RT Promotions' MD, Richard Mack, thought he'd put Gordon Glenister, the Director General of the British Promotional Merchandising Association (BPMA), on the spot and ask him a number of searching questions about the state of the industry.
Q. Gordon, as Director general of the BPMA, you must see lots of really good examples of promotional gifts, care to describe your favourite?

A. Yes, I see a lot of great promotional gifts but my favourite gifts are those that have some relevance to a theme. One of my favourites is something I have kept for over 15 years – I picked up what looked like a piece of wood only to be told it was whistle and made the noise of a great steam train. Given the company was called Commission Junction, I liked the link. Not only have I shown this gift to thousands of people in my seminars, all our research suggests those items that have relevance and usefulness are likely to be kept for the longest.

Q. For clients looking for a memorable promotional gift, which style offers the best ROI? Quirky/unusual or regular/standard?

A. That's an important question, especially in today's still economically challenging times. I have to say that much depends on the target audience. If you are targeting a cool, young and trendy audience as, for example, you would be if you're in the fashion industry, you might source unusual items that are relevant to that group. However, all the research suggests that the stable products such as pens, mugs, clothing, usb sticks and so on still lead the way. I know that sounds like I'm recommending safe or dull choices but it's amazing, for example, what the Google brand does on a standard mug – I’ve seen the reaction! The other big question gift buyers should ask themselves is how the gift is being presented. For example, is it being given away at an exhibition, is it to be mailed, is it an on-pack promotion or is it being resold? These factors will impact on the effectiveness of the response a gift generates and therefore the ROI the sourcing business enjoys.

Q. With the click of a mouse, buyers can find a plethora of promotional gift distributors offering the same kind of thing – pens, coffee mugs, coaters, etc, - how should they decide which company is most suitable?  

A. I know buyers want maximum value with minimum risk when searching for promotional items. But with so much choice, they need to be able make an informed decision about what products are best suited to their needs. By talking to a BPMA member distributor, many of whom have years of experience and are trained to an industry standard, a buyer will feel reassured that they are working with an expert. If buyers clearly explain the type of activity they are planning, it's likely there are a range of ideas and options available. Other signs of a potentially good gifts supplier are case studies. Look at what other companies they have worked with already and the results, feedback or testimonials they have achieved. The most capable suppliers have often won industry awards, too.

Q. The promotional gifts industry used to be driven by mailing-out brochures but has seen a gradual move away to promotional tools like e-shots; where do you see this going?

A. It's definitely true that catalogues have dropped in popularity but not by a staggering amount as there are still people who like to view ideas away from the computer. It's sometimes easier, for example, to talk with colleagues while viewing a catalogue rather than on a screen or hard copy e-mail. In addition, e-mails are extremely cheap to deliver but I would also ask how many even get through to recipients in this day and age with so many spam filters. As a society we are overwhelmed with messages, receiving thousands every day. In some instances we’ve become oblivious to them. Furthermore, for me at least, one of the most effective methods for gifts suppliers to get their message over is through word of mouth and referral marketing – which are the kinds of signals buyers should be listening for as well. Tailored and focused direct mail is seeing a resurgence.

Q. You have worked alongside the biggest and the smallest in this industry – what tips would you give to a company seeking to source a UK distributor?

A. If a company wants to source a UK distributor, it all depends again on what they are trying to achieve and what they are looking for in a partner. Are they looking for a local company they can meet regularly and discuss ideas and options for campaigns? Are they looking for a company that can help them create a merchandise scheme or collection for a large brand with a sizeable budget? Are they looking for in-house design or a company that can cater for their tender requirements? Once they've decided upon what type of company they are looking for, they should then select from BPMA members, all of whom have been financially vetted and sign up to a code of conduct. What's more, some BPMA members have taken steps to becoming  super compliant by gaining “Charter” status. All these companies have customer service procedures, proper complaint processes, ethical policies and many also have CSR polices. All of which are just some of the reasons why promotional gift buyers should also talk to BPMA members first!

Q. Recent legislation from the EU is beginning to have an impact on the UK promotional gifts industry, so what’s next? Will all promotional pens, for example, have to be made to a standard size?

A. I don’t think some of the EU legislation will have the same impact on our promotional gifts industry as it has had in the UK in, say, the retail sector. Product traceability, however, is an important directive and the source of a gift's origin is likely to be an area of development. But, the reach of the EU constantly evolves – just look at the recent headlines regarding vacuum cleaners – so the industry and gift buyers should keep an eye on European developments.

Q. There seems to be a trend for customers requiring their promotional gifts much faster, often within the same week, and increasingly in full colour. How do you see this trend developing?

A. I see the growth in short term lead times as part of a 'want it now' society we live in. I do think that some of the demands are creating real challenges in the supply chain. If everyone wants products in a week and there are limited production slots, then it's simply not possible. My view is that as there is more pressure and less choice in short time periods. So if buyers plan more time into their deadlines, this enables them to consider a greater range of product ideas and what creative messages works best.

Q. A few years ago everyone was demanding their promotional gifts be ‘eco friendly’ or recycled. Has demand dropped for green gifts or is there a lack of variety of products available to tempt the customers?

A. Actually, there is the widest choice possible for eco friendly products nowadays, although I do think there has been some slippage here. Again, much depends on the objectives of the gift buyer and what type of message they wish to be promoting. For example, do they want to be seen in a positive ecological light?

Q. Finally Gordon, what are these 'Deskies' we've been hearing about in the business?

A. This is our fun way to promote our second National Promotional Products Week, which runs between 15th and 19th September, and to engage our industry and its buyers. In order to promote the value of promotional branded gifts we are encouraging people to take photos of their desks – hence the 'Deskie' – to help us glean which promotional gifts are the most popular. Research shows that 89% of people will keep a gift if it's useful, so we're expecting lots of 'Deskies' which can be uploaded to our site at www.promotionalproductsweek.co.uk.

Our thanks again to BPMA Director General, Gordon Glenister, for giving up his valuable time for this interview session. 
Prices shown are exclusive of origination, delivery and VAT
Prices and specification are subject to change without prior notice

Promotional gifts, promotional items, promotional products, business gifts, corporate gifts, custom printed by RT promotions.co.uk
Copyright © 2008 - 2019 RT IDEAS LTD T/A RT Promotions. All Rights Reserved Worldwide